“The first thing that I’m going to do when I go back home, is go to the park and get a big plate of fritanga.”
My friend Eric tells me this, eyes closed, mentally picturing this meal he plans to eat the second he returns home to Bucaramanga, Colombia. I experience this meal through his excitement and his description of the food, it’s almost as if we’re there.
Several years ago I met Eric at a local Colombian-owned restaurant we often frequent. He is the maker of the very best margarita, and we quickly bonded over our love for Colombia. Maybe it’s because we met in a restaurant, but our conversations have always revolved around food, well, food and a Colombian game called tejo. Imagine cornhole, but with gunpowder and more beer. When Eric found out about I Brought Bread, specifically my desire to create memorable meals with friends and family, he was immediately on board.
We all have food memories; they can be as simple as the scent of something cooking in the kitchen that immediately takes you back in time, or a meal a loved one makes every Thanksgiving. Food is intricately woven into our past and into our memories. A lot is lost when someone moves their entire life to a new country, but food traditions and recipes tie us to home and often continue for generations. Recipes get edited to make them work in a new place, and ingredients evolve based on what’s accessible.
Eric decided to make a Colombian breakfast, called a recalentado. When he described what it was he was going to make, I was taken back to my travels to Colombia in 2016. I recall hearing about this hearty breakfast as something workers would eat in the morning and that would fuel them for the entire day. As we stood in his kitchen talking, Eric mixing and shaping the arepas, I ask him about sourcing Colombian ingredients here in the United States. According to him, many things, such as the cornmeal, are very similar, while other ingredients, like the chorizo sausages, aren’t nearly as good here, as they are in Colombia.
Immigrating to the United States at 17, Eric has family here in Georgia as well as back home in Colombia. As he grills the chorizo and sautées the beans and rice together, I ask him about his own experience cooking Colombian food. It sounds like he prefers to enjoy it with family and then adds, “my dad will be proud of me for making this.” A recalentado is comprised of beans and rice sauteed together, a fried egg, chorizo sausage, and arepas. As we sit down to eat, surrounded by a few of Eric’s friends, many of whom are also Colombian, they begin to reminisce about the arepas their mom’s made growing up.
I recreated the recipe Eric made using nearly all the same ingredients. A few things I was unable to find, and I wanted to make the recipe accessible, so I went ahead without them. While traditionally this is a Colombian breakfast, it can easily be enjoyed later in the day or for supper. The flavors and the ingredients are simple, yet flavorful. I enjoy mixing a small bit of everything together and using the arepa to scoop it up.
Recalentado is a hearty Colombian breakfast intended to keep you full through the entire day. A plate full of rice and beans, a fried egg, arepas, chorizo sausage, and avocado. This breakfast is flavorful and filling.
- 1 cup fine grain cornmeal
- 3/4 cup water
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 2 Tbsp + 1 tsp canola oil, divided
- 4 chorizo sausages
- 3 green onions, sliced diagonally
- 3 cups cooked brown rice
- 1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed, or 1 1/2 cups cooked
- 4 eggs
- 1 avocado
- pinch each sea salt and black pepper
Start by making the arepas. Combine the cornmeal, water, and salt in a medium-sized bowl. You want the consistency to be moldable, but not too wet. Add a bit more water, 1 tablespoon at a time, if the dough is too dry.
Using your hands, divide the dough evenly into 4 sections and roll into balls. On your counter, flatten the balls using the palm of your hand so that they are 1/4" thick.
In a medium-sized cast iron skillet over medium heat, add 2 teaspoons of oil. Once the oil is hot, add 2 of the arepas to the pan. Cook for 2-3 minutes per side, or until they are browning and crisp. Remove from the pan and keep warm. Repeat with the other 2 arepas. If the pan dries out, add 2 more teaspoons of oil.
In the meantime, cook the chorizo sausages, heat a grill pan over medium heat and brush with 2 teaspoons of oil. Using a knife, make diagonal slices along the length of the sausages, being careful not to cut them all the way through. Slice the sausages on 2 opposite sides. Once hot, add the sausages and cook, rotating occasionally until browned on all sides. Remove from the heat and keep warm.
Using the same cast iron skillet, heat 1 teaspoon of oil over medium-low heat. Once hot, add the green onions to the pan and sauté for 3-4 minutes, or until softened and bright green. Add the cooked rice and the beans to the pan, stirring to combine with the green onions. Cook until heated through. Taste for salt and pepper, season to taste. Set the beans and rice aside.
In the same pan, heat 1 Tbsp of oil over medium heat. Carefully crack all 4 eggs into the pan. Season with sea salt and black pepper. Let the eggs cook for 2 minutes. Gently tilt the pan and using a spoon, gather oil and drizzle over the egg white to cook through. Cook for 1 more minute.
To serve, divide beans and rice, sausages, eggs, and arepas among 4 plates. Add sliced avocado and enjoy.
If you can find Colombian chorizo sausages, use those, but otherwise use a chorizo sausage of your choice.