Harina P.A.N. – What Is It and 7 Delicious Recipes

Harina P.A.N. or more commonly referred to as Harina Pan, is a famous brand that is getting recognized around the world. It is pre-cooked cornmeal that is made only with corn and no other preservatives and additives.

This simple ingredient is packed with health benefits, and there are, in fact, numerous recipes you can try with this one

ingredient.

Harina P.A.N. is made of boiled maize flour originating in Venezuela and is certified to be 100% gluten-free. It is one of the most recognized brands of cornmeal around the world. Arepas, empanadas, and pupusas are some of the latin recipes that you can make using this product.

Keep on reading to understand how this product is made, its health benefits and history, and how the socio-political changes affect the production and distribution of this Venezuelan staple.

There are also a host of recipes in this article that you can make using the Harina P.A.N.

What Is Harina P.A.N.?

3 Types of Harina Pan Cornmeal
3 Types of Harina Pan Cornmeal

Harina P.A.N. is a brand name originating in Venezuela and associated with boiled maize flour.

The brand has been very successful and has become synonymous with maize flour today. It looks similar to the Italian polenta and even has a similar texture.

Where To Buy Harina Pan?

You can buy the Harina Pan online at Amazon and Amigofoods in three main varieties – P.A.N. White Corn Meal, Harina Pan Pre-Cooked Corn Meal – Yellow, and P.A.N. Sweet Corn Mix.

You should also be able to find it sold at superstores such as Walmart and Target.

The brand name is so widely known today; it is often used as a noun to indicate maize flour in general.

How Is Harina P.A.N. Used?

Harina Pan Arepas made with cornmeal, husks of corn.
Harina Pan Arepas

Harina P.A.N. is part of the Venezuelan staple diet. It is used in a multitude of Venezuelan dishes.

The P.A.N. cornmeal is mixed with water to form a dough, and this dough is known as “masa de arepa” or “masarepa” locally in Venezuela.

Dishes such as the arepas, hallacas, and empanadas are made using this dough.

Apart from Venezuela, many traditional Colombian dishes are also made using this flour.

Harina Pan makes a variety of cornmeal, and this expands the possibilities and number of dishes that can be made using each variety of cornmeal.

Even those on a restricted diet can use the Harina P.A.N. cornmeal as the lack of preservatives, additives, and being completely gluten-free makes the product suitable for consumption by a wider group of people.

The History of Harina P.A.N.

Harina Pan was invented by a Venezuelan engineer, Dr. Luis Caballero Mejias, sometime in the 1950s. Before this, the process of making cornmeal was very labor-intensive. First, one would have to soak maize kernels, then dehusk them, and then dry them before grinding it by hand into a fine flour. 

This ground corn would then be mixed with water to form a dough that would be flattened into golden disks ready for baking.

Since cornmeal was used for everyday meals, it took up a lot of time in the kitchen just to pound the maize in a large mortar. Dr. Mejias’ invention came as a respite to those who slogged in the kitchen.

This invention was quickly adopted by Empresas Polar, a beer and malted drinks company, but Dr. Mejias was not given the due credit.

When launching the brand in 1960, Empresas Polar credited the idea to a certain Carlos Roubicek, who had a brewery and Juan Lorenzo Mendoza Quintero, who had manufacturing units.

It is believed that the company Empresas Polar had vested interest in doing so. Sadly, Dr. Mejias was never attributed to the development of the process that made the production of maize flour so efficient.

Venezuelan housewives that were looking to find ways for labor-saving methods in the kitchen quickly allowed the product into their kitchens. The original tagline for the product was “Se acabó la piladera” which translated into “No more pounding.”

To this day, Harina P.A.N. has remained unchanged and extremely successful due to the labor-saving and high-quality product that it is.

It has continued to remain essentially unchanged even though it underwent mass-production over time.

The Origin of the Brand Name

Carlos Eduardo Stolk, an erstwhile President of Empresas Polar, first proposed the name—Harina P.A.N. The acronym P.A.N. was an abbreviated form for a tagline in Spanish, “Producto Alimenticio Nacional.” This, in English, meant National Food Product.

It was named so to represent that the popular food product was intended for mass consumption in Venezuela. Considering that cornmeal was a staple food of the region, it made sense to call it so, and so the name P.A.N. stuck.

The Cultural Significance

Harina Pan has been an essential ingredient in Venezuelan pantries since the time it was launched in the 1960s.

Of late, it has also made its way to Colombian kitchens and the culinary world. Some websites have been set up worldwide to help people find the nearest distributor of Harina P.A.N.

For Venezuelans, the Harina P.A.N. has become a part of their national identity. They use this flour in their regular diet. In Colombia, too, the product has been much sought after, and many dough-based dishes are made using this flour.

Is Harina P.A.N. Healthy?

Harina P.A.N. is exceptionally healthy for those on a gluten-free diet or who want to transition into low sodium and a heart-healthy diet. It is an excellent source for carbohydrates, protein, and iron.

If you are trying to consume less sodium in your diet, do not add salt when preparing the dough.

An arepa made of Harina Pan is often a healthier alternative to a sandwich or a wrap. You can bake the arepa dough and stuff it with healthy fillings to make a wholesome, healthy, and tasty meal.

How to Store Harina P.A.N.

Harina P.A.N. can be stored for months in a cool, dry place. It does not need refrigeration. If it is stored under proper conditions, Harina Pan can last for about a year. 

For an extended shelf-life, make sure that the cornmeal is stored in an airtight container or Ziploc bag and stored in a cool, dry, and dark place. If you use moisture-proof containers to store cornmeal in the freezer, it can last up to several years.

Harina P.A.N. Has Become Part of Venezuelan Identity

With the brand name that Harina was first given, it sealed the name P.A.N. flour with Venezuelan identity. The acronym P.A.N. roughly translates to National Food Product in English.

So, the Harina P.A.N. went on to become the national food product for Venezuela, making it a household name and also gaining popularity internationally.

Many Venezuelan dishes such as hallacas, empanadas, and arepas are made using the Harina P.A.N. Other companies also started to produce pre-cooked corn flour, but Harina P.A.N. always outshone them.

The brand’s phenomenon, coupled with its consistently good quality over the years and the efficiency it introduced to the Venezuelan kitchen—all of this made the Harina P.A.N. a household name and took on a cultural significance in the Venezuelan culinary world.

Current Socio-Political Climate Affecting Sales and Distribution of Harina P.A.N.

Venezuela has had some changes in its socio-political climate, which has affected the sales and distribution of the Harina P.A.N. products.

Many are fleeing town or have been suffering due to these political clashes. As a result of this migration, Venezuelan food has come to the forefront of global cuisine.

Arepas and other cornmeal dishes have traveled out of the nation’s borders and are found in other countries. As a result, the demand for Harina Pan has also shifted to other parts of the world, where supermarkets are reaching out to suppliers for Harina P.A.N. to meet the demands of their new customers.

7 Delicious Recipes You Can Make With Harina P.A.N.

Harina P.A.N. has become the household name not just in Venezuela, but in many places around the world today. Due to the versatile nature of the product. Many dishes can be prepared using the cornmeal dough as the base for those recipes.

Here are a few of the latin recipes that you can easily make at home using a few basic ingredients from your kitchen and the Harina P.A.N.

1. Arepas

Venezuelan Arepas filled with assorted savory fillings
Venezuelan Arepas filled with assorted savory fillings

Arepas are crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside. They are basically cornmeal cakes that are grilled, baked, or fried.

Historically, arepas were cooked on a “budare,” a smooth, flat stone on which the arepa is cooked. A basic Venezuelan arepa is a small, thick, golden disk that is made with just a few ingredients.

You will need the following ingredients:

  • Salt – 1 tablespoon
  • Water – 2 cups
  • Harina P.A.N. flour – 2 ½ cups
  • Cooking oil – 2 tablespoons

To prepare the dish, follow these simple steps:

  1. Take a bowl and pour the water into it.
  2. Add salt to the water and mix it till it dissolves.
  3. Slowly add the Harina P.A.N., a half cup at a time, and mix it gently to get a dough-like consistency. You could use a spatula or your hand to make the dough.
  4. Let the dough rest for five minutes.
  5. Next, scoop out small portions of the dough in your hand and form a ball. At this stage, you can check for dryness. If the edges dry too soon, add more water to moisten the dough.
  6. Once you have rolled the dough into small balls, place them in the palm of your hands and gently flatten them into discs.
  7. The arepas are now ready to be fried. Heat oil in a pan and pan-fry the discs till the outer layer forms a crust.
  8. You can then put it in the oven for fifteen minutes to ensure the inside is cooked through, or alternately, put a lid on the frying pan to mimic the oven. The arepa will be cooked through either way.

Arepas are savory bread and are best enjoyed with maple syrup, or you could even split the arepa to resemble a pita bread and fill it with stuffing. 

Here is a video on how to make arepas using only three ingredients. Just make sure one of them is Harina Pan!

https://youtu.be/k1V6a9hiu_E

2. Blackberry Cornmeal Muffins

Blueberry Muffins in a cupcake foils
Blueberry Muffins

To make this hearty snack that is studded with blackberries, you will need:

  • Blackberries – 1 cup
  • Harina P.A.N. cornmeal – 1 cup
  • Almond meal – ½ cup
  • Flour – 1 cup
  • Honey – 2 tablespoons
  • Sugar – ½ cup
  • Eggs – 2 nos.
  • Milk – ¼ cup
  • Applesauce – ¾ cup
  • Apple cider vinegar – ¾ tablespoon
  • Baking soda – 1 tablespoon
  • Melted butter – ¼ cup
  • Salt – 1 teaspoon

Follow these instructions to make your own mouth-watering blackberry cornmeal cupcakes:

  1. Take a standard muffin tin and gently grease the wells with butter and coat with a light sprinkling of flour. Shake out the muffin tray to remove excess flour.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°F (176°C), and in a mixing bowl, break two eggs and beat them till they are runny. Let it rest for 5 minutes.
  3. In a separate cup, take the milk and add the apple cider vinegar and baking soda to it. Whisk to mix the three and set aside.
  4. To the eggs, add honey, sugar, and melted butter, and whisk it till the sugar dissolves. Then add the applesauce and salt before you pour in the egg mixture. Whisk everything together.
  5. To the combined mixture, add the almond meal and the Harina P.A.N. cornmeal. Gently fold it into the mixture until there are no lumps left behind. The batter should have gained a thick consistency.
  6. Now add the blackberries to the batter and gently fold the batter without breaking the blackberries.
  7. Pour in scoops of the batter into the muffin tin and bake for 25-30 minutes. A good way to know if your muffins are ready or not—is by inserting a toothpick into the muffin. If the toothpick comes out clean, then the muffins are ready.
  8. Once the muffins are cooked through, bring it out of the oven and let it rest for about 15-20 minutes. This will help the muffins to loosen up, and you can easily lift them out of the muffin tray.

It keeps well at room temperature for 2-3 days. If you intend to store it for longer, freeze the muffins in an airtight container. This will keep the muffins fresh for up to a month.

3. Empanadas

Venezuelan Empanadas filled with assorted savory fillings
Venezuelan Empanadas filled with assorted savory fillings

To make tender and flaky empanadas that are bursting at the seams with sumptuous fillings, you will need:

  • Harina P.A.N. cornmeal – 1 cup
  • Melted butter – ¼ cup
  • Salt – 2 ½ teaspoons
  • Eggs – 1
  • Onion – 1
  • Jalapeno – 1
  • Ground beef – 1 lb (453 gms)
  • Chili powder – 1 teaspoon
  • Paprika powder – ½ teaspoon
  • Cumin powder – 1 ½ teaspoon
  • Peas – ½ cup
  • Oil – 2 tablespoons
  • Diced potatoes – 1 cup
  • Diced carrots – ½ cup

The process of making empanadas is divided into three basic steps.

While the first one helps in making the dough, which is the outer covering of the empanada, the next one is making the filling, and the last one is combining all of them together.

To make the empanada dough:

  1. Add the Harina P.A.N. cornmeal, egg, melted butter, and salt to a food processor and blitz it a few times. The batter will form small lumps.
  2. At this stage, add a little water to the food processor, and pulse it until a dough-like consistency is achieved.
  3. Place the dough in cling film and flatten it to form a disk. Wrap the thing in plastic and refrigerate for about an hour.

To make the filling:

  1. Heat oil in a pan and sauté the onions and jalapenos till the onions turn slightly translucent.
  2. Next, add the potatoes, peas, and carrots and sauté for another five minutes.
  3. Put in all the spices—paprika, salt, cumin, and chili powder, and just a splash of water. Once you see the oil separating from the vegetables, it is time to add in the ground beef. Keep stirring till the beef is cooked through.   

For the next stage:

  1. Take the dough out of the fridge and roll it out to a quarter of an inch (0.63 cm) thickness. Cut out small circles of around 5 inches (12.7 cm) in diameter using a small bowl or lid.
  2. Add the filling to each of the individual circles and fold them in half and crimp the edges in half.
  3. In a deep pan, heat oil and fry the empanadas in batches till they are golden brown in color.

It is best served and eaten hot. So have the empanadas while they are still warm. You can serve it with a side of sour cream, or salsa.

4. Spoonbread

Spoonbread is a dish made of cornmeal and is a lot like a pudding. Even though it is called a bread, it has the taste and texture of pudding, such as a Yorkshire pudding

To make a spoonbread you will need:

  • Harina Pan cornmeal – 1 cup
  • Milk – 3 cups
  • Eggs – 3
  • Oil – 2 tablespoons
  • Salt – 1 ½ teaspoon

To make this dish, simply follow these few steps:

  1. In a large saucepan, heat some oil.
  2. Add in the cornmeal and keep stirring.
  3. Next, add salt and then the milk.
  4. Keep stirring and then in a low flame cover the mixture and let it cook until it thickens.
  5. Meanwhile, in a bowl, crack three eggs and beat them till they are runny.
  6. Gently pour in the cornmeal mixture into the eggs and keep stirring as you do so.
  7. Grease a baking pan with butter and pour the mixture into the baking pan.
  8. Bake at 400°F (204°C) for 35 to 40 minutes. You will know that the spoonbread is ready when it has turned golden, and the top is firm.

The spoonbread is best when it is slightly warm. If you keep it in an airtight container, it will stay in the fridge for a couple of days. Heat it in the microwave for a few minutes before serving.

5. Hallacas

Venezuelan Hallacas filled with assorted savory fillings
Venezuelan Hallacas

Hallacas are very similar to Mexican tamales, and both can be made with Harina P.A.N. cornmeal. This dish is wrapped and cooked in corn husks that give this dish its authentic flavor. 

To make tamales, you will need:

  • Harina Pan – 2 cups
  • Chicken broth – 1 cup  
  • Refried bean – 1 cup
  • Cheese – 1 ½ cup
  • Cumin – 1 ½ teaspoon
  • Melted butter – ¼ cup
  • Baking powder – ½ teaspoon
  • Salt – 1 ½ teaspoon
  • Dried corn husks – 8 oz. (226.7 grams)

To make this dish, you will need to:

  1. Soak the corn husks in boiling hot water for about 30 minutes.
  2. While the corn husks are soaking, prepare the filling by mixing the refried beans with the cheese in a bowl. Then, set aside.
  3. For the dough, take a large bowl and add the butter and two tablespoons of the chicken broth and whisk.
  4. Next, add the Harina Pan cornmeal, salt, baking powder, and cumin in a medium bowl and give it a mix.
  5. To this, add the butter and broth mixture and gently pour in the remainder of the broth mixture.
  6. You can use an electric mixer to make this easier.
  7. The dough should reach a peanut butter-like, slightly sticky consistency.
  8. The next step is to assemble the tamales. For this, lay the corn husk on a flat surface. Remember to keep the glossy side up.
  9. On the husk place, a portion of the dough rolled out to fit the husk’s width.
  10. To this dough, now add the filling of beans and cheese.
  11. Fold the corn husk into a cone shape and tie it with a string to hold the shape.
  12. Place the tamales on a steamer and let it cook for 10-15 minutes.

Once done, serve the hallacas with a side of salsa. Hallacas are best enjoyed while they are still warm.

6. Pupusas

Venezuelan Pupusas filled with assorted savory fillings
Venezuelan Pupusas

Pupusas is a Salvadoran dish that can be made with a host of fillings ranging from beans to cheese to meat, or a combination of all three. 

To make this dish, you will need:

  • Harina P.A.N. cornmeal – 3 cups
  • Vegetable oil – 2 cups
  • Onions – 1 medium-sized
  • Refried beans – 1 ½ cup
  • Mozzarella cheese – 1 cup
  • Salt – To taste

To prepare the dish, you will need to:

  1. Heat half the oil in a large pan and cook the diced onions till they are charred.
  2. Blend the refried beans and the charred onions with a quarter cup of water. You will get a puree like a smooth consistency.
  3. In the pan, transfer this bean mixture and stir continuously for 10 minutes. Add in salt to your taste.
  4. Let the cooked beans rest till they start to thicken.
  5. In a separate bowl, mix the Harina P.A.N. cornmeal with salt and hot water until you get a thick dough. Let it then rest for 15 minutes.
  6. Add the mozzarella cheese to the bean mixture.
  7. Take small portions of the dough and roll them into a ball using the palm of your hands.
  8. Pinch the sides of the dough ball to form a well for the filling to go in.
  9. It should not look like a bowl. Fill in with the bean mixture, and pinch the dough back to envelop the filling.
  10. In a deep pan, heat oil and fry the pupusas till the center slightly puffs up, and the pupusa turns golden in color. Serve hot with a side of salsa.

7. Cachapas

Venzezuelan Cachapas with butter on cutting board
Venzezuelan Cachapas

This Venezuelan corn cake is very easy and quick to make. They are sweet to taste and make the perfect breakfast dish. 

It also needs very few ingredients:

  • Harina P.A.N. cornmeal – 3 cups
  • Melted butter – 2 tablespoons
  • Cream – 1 tablespoon
  • Salt – 1 teaspoon

To make this dish, you will need to:

  1. Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend it till you have a smooth and thick batter.
  2. Place a lightly oiled skillet over medium-low heat.
  3. Take a large dollop of the batter and place it on the skillet. Spread the dollop to form a circle.
  4. Cook the pancake until the sides form small bubbles, and the spatula can easily slide underneath the pancake.
  5. Flip the pancake over to the other side and let it cook for a few more minutes. When you are cooking on the flip side, keep the temperature low; otherwise, the pancake might get burnt.
  6. Continue cooking the pancakes until you have used up all the batter.

There are many ways to eat it—many prefer drizzling honey on top of a stack of these pancakes, others smear it with butter and cream.

Conclusion

Colombian Arepas with assorted fillings
Arepas from Venezuela

Harina P.A.N. has become synonymous with cornmeal. Because of the ease with which it can be used to make many dishes, it continues to gain popularity worldwide.

All you need to do to make a basic dish out of it is add water and knead it into a dough. You will have a delicious base for endless recipes with this.

Due to the unrest in Venezuela, it is said that the product is not easily available there any longer, but more and more supermarkets and online stores around the world have begun to stock up on this product and sell this product from their stores.

Sources

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