Talking of Venezuelan food without mention the arepa, just has no sense.
The arepa is the excellence food for the Venezuelan, it’s used at any time as main course, side dish or even sweet snack. The consumption it’s calculated at 3,5 arepas/day/Venezuelan, reason why there exist a lot of recipes for preparations and fillings.
The “reina pepiada” it’s a classic on the Venezuelan areperas (a food joint mostly driven by the consumption of arepas with a variety of fillings), it’s been said they was named in honor of a beauty queen of the 50’s. In my case I remember my first retina pepiada at one “arepera” at the “el rosal” neighborhood in Caracas, when I was 8 years old on one of those long entertainment days with my mother, the recipe seems simple, a chicken salad arepa with avocado, but it’s the complexity of the salad what makes it unique and delicious.
One of the things that allow me to share this recipe is that the main ingredient for the preparation of the arepas, the precooked corn flour, can be found in more than 32 countries in the world under the brand P.A.N., so there is no excuses to do them.
- 2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (about 12 oz)
- 1/2 small onion, sliced
- 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 ripe avocado, pitted, peeled, and coarsely chopped
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar, plus more to taste
- 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro minced
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley minced
- 1/2 jalapeño, seeded and minced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 cup seeded and smally dice dried bell pepper
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
- 1 scallion, white and green parts, finely chopped
- 3 1/2 cups lukewarm water.
- 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
- 3 cups precooked corn flour (I use white corn P.A.N. corn flour)
- 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon corn oil, plus more for the griddle
Place the chicken breasts and onion in a medium saucepan and add enough water to cover by 1 inch, add 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and bring to a boil over medium heat, once boiling reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until the chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes. Remove the chicken from the saucepan and let cool completely so can be handled by hand and then tear it into shreds.
Mash the avocado, mayonnaise, and vinegar together in a medium bowl with a fork until smooth. Stir in the cilantro, parsley, jalapeno, and garlic, then add the chicken, red pepper, red onion, and scallion and mix together. Season with salt and pepper. Taste and add more vinegar to give the filling a pleasant, but not sour, tang. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
In a bowl dissolve the salt into the 3 cups lukewarm water. Gradually add 3 cups precooked corn flour, mixing with your fingers to dissolve any lumps, adding enough to make a soft dough that holds its shape without cracking when molded.
Set dough aside to rest for 5 minutes then add the oil and work it in with your hands, if needed add more corn flour or water to keep the dough to the proper consistency.
Divide the dough into 6 equal portions, shape them into a 4-inch diameter patties, about 1 inch thick. Transfer to a baking sheet.Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F.
Lightly oil a large nonstick skillet or griddle and heat over medium heat.In batches, place the arepas in the griddle.
Cook until the underside is golden brown, about 4 minutes, the patties must be loose from the griddle.
Turn and brown the other side. Return arepas to the baking sheet.
When all of the arepas are browned, transfer them directly to the oven rack (without the baking sheet). Bake until the surfaces of the arepas have formed a taut skin, return the arepas to the baking sheet and let them cool a little bit.
Split each arepa in half and fill with the chicken mixture. Serve warm.