First and foremost: If you cook the beef in a slow cooker or a dutch oven it will take you eight hours.
I used a pressure cooker and the beef took an hour; altogether the arepas, beef, and guasacaca took me about four hours. I started with the flank steak, rubbing it in olive oil, sazon con azafran, and salt. I cut the steak in half and seared it to lock in the flavor, then put it aside. Fry a diced white onion in the same pan. Once soft, add the peppers and garlic. Cook for a few minutes, then put the vegetables in your slow cooker/dutch oven/pressure cooker, followed by the beef. Put tomatoes and tomato paste. When finished use forks to tear the beef.
While the Carne Mechada cooks, start making the Guanasaca. Put chopped parsley, coriander, avocados, garlic, onion, and peppers in a food processor along with lemon juice, olive oil, and white vinegar. Blend and add salt and pepper to taste. Cover with cling film and put in the fridge.
After the Carne Mechada is done, you can leave it in the
pot while you start to make the arepas. The arepas are made by combining water, vegetable shortening (I used lard), and salt in a bowl. Then add your harina de maiz bit by bit, whisking to avoid clumps. You’ll form a soft dough, which you then cover with a damp towel for ten minutes. Then form the dough into small balls, flattened into disks.
The outer edges should be a bit flatter than the rest. Now cook them on an oiled griddle for a few minutes. Your griddle must be at least 450°F for this to work–mine was not hot enough and the arepas were still doughy and did not form pockets. Then move them to a hot grill and cook for seven minutes. When your arepas are done, slice in half like a hamburger, but only half way. Fill with the carne mechada and guanasaca and enjoy.
Since it was a hot day when I made these, I also mixed some Venezuela Hot Chocolate Milkshakes. I used this recipe for Venezuelan Hot Chocolate and put it in a blender with 1.5 Qts of chocolate ice-cream. But first to make the hot chocolate I heated some milk with star anise, cinnamon, orange zest, allspice berries, and brown sugar. Just when the milk starts to simmer, take it off the heat and set aside to steep for ten minutes. Then strain the milk and stir in semi-sweet chocolate chips, heating until all the chocolate is melted. Continue to whisk quickly for five minutes. Finally put the saucepan in a large bowl half filled with ice and water. This way the hot chocolate will cool down more quickly, and when it is cold you can blend it with the chocolate ice-cream.