Reina pepiada (Chicken avocado Arepa)
According to Wikipedia Arepa (Spanish pronunciation: [aˈɾepa]) is a type of food made of ground maize dough or cooked corn flour prominent in the cuisine of Venezuela.
For us, arepas are our culinary business card, an introduction to our country’s gastronomy from the first bite. They’re part of our soul, music, color and happiness. Arepas are the best ambassador of our country and will always be the best connection with our land.
They can be considered a snack, but they are much more than that; you can have them for breakfast, lunch or dinner. There are so many varieties of this dish, they can be grilled or fried, made with white or yellow flour, with a wide variety of fillings, for which preferences vary for each region in Venezuela.
Today I will share with you the recipe of our best seller, as we call it, the most famous arepa ever! That is “Reina Pepiada”, which can be translated as "Curvaceous Queen". It is an Arepa with Chicken avocado salad and petit- pois.
The reason of this name is in honor to our first Miss World Susana Duijm in 1955; the first woman from South America to win this important crown. To make a long story short, a man named Heriberto Alvarez owned a restaurant called “Los Hermanos Alvarez” in Caracas and he personally knew Susana’s father. After she won the beauty pageant his dad brought her to eat at their establishment. In her honor, Mr. Alvarez wanted to serve something special for his guest, and thus the recipe was developed. A story similar to that of Pizza Margarita.
Ok! Let’s move on to the recipe.
- 2 cups of Harina P.A.N (pre-cooked corn flour) ** *it’s not the same as polenta and you can easily find it at the regular supermarkets and tokos.**
- 2 ½ cups of water
- 1 tablespoon of Salt
In a large bowl combine the water and salt, add the Harina P.A.N mixing by hand. It is important to knead quickly to avoid any lumps. When ready, the mixture should be homogeneous, soft and not sticky at all. I recommend to let the dough rest for about 10 minutes covered with a damp cotton towel to prevent it from drying.
Preheat a pan or skillet on medium-low heat and add a little bit of oil to prevent the arepas from sticking to the pan.
With the dough, make balls of approximately 40g and flatten them. The arepa needs to be thick enough that it can be sliced and stuffed.
You may need a tray to place them until you have them all in the perfect round shape.
Seal the arepas on the pan for 2 minutes each side, or until you have a nice golden crust. Then move them to a preheated oven at 250°C and bake them for about 8 – 10 minutes.
* You can cook them to completion in the pan, but the oven trick is effective to make sure they’re not raw and always on point
- 2 Chicken breasts - Previously boiled, preferably on chicken bouillon broth, and then shredded.
- 3 tablespoons of mayonnaise - I prefer yoghurt mayonnaise.
- ½ green paprika (this is my addition to the original recipe)
- 1 medium sized onion
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2 ripe avocados (1 for the mixture and 1 to decorate)
- 1 cup of frozen petit-pois
- Salt & pepper
- A touch of finely chopped coriander
- The juice of 1 Lime
- Olive or any other vegetable oil.
Grab a pan and add a little bit of olive oil, add the onion finely chopped in small pieces with the garlic minced, and fry them on a medium-low temperature until the onion is translucent.
Peel one avocado and blend it together (with a hand blender or mixer) with the onions and garlic mix. Add the 3 spoons of mayonnaise, coriander, and the juice of the lime.
Once the avocado sauce is ready, add it to the shredded chicken and mix it until homogeneous.
For the last touches add the cup of petit-pois, and the 2 nd avocado chopped in little cubes, mix and and add salt and pepper to taste.
Serving the arepas
With a small, serrated knife, slice through the middle halfway, trying to make sure that the bottom part is not sliced open (fillings will fall out otherwise). Stuff generously with the chicken avocado or your favorite filling (be generous) and serve immediately!
Warning, arepas can be addictive, please enjoy carefully.