I’ve already expressed my joy at discovering arepas at a local food truck, Quiero Arepas. And yes I “quiero” them often now! My first experience was with their Reina Pepiada, a crispy corn shell stuffed with shredded chicken breast, avocado and an avocado dressing. On first bite, I knew I had to recreate this recipe at home.
Arepas are a traditional South American dish, notably of Venezuelan cuisine. They’re a staple in many homes there for good reason. The corn-based “dough” is versatile, filling, tasty and best of all SUPER EASY to make. Don’t believe me? Just read Gluten-Free Girl’s own recount of her first arepa-making experience. The beauty of arepas is that you can stuff them with anything you want. Or, sub arepas for English muffins or biscuits to make a recipe gluten free, like these Eggs Benedict. There’s debate over which type of corn to use as I saw many variations call for P.A.N. precooked cornmeal, but I wanted something organic so I could avoid GMO corn. So I went with the masa harina from Bob’s Red Mill, which is non-GMO but can’t be certified organic because of the process used to make masa harina.
And the dressing? I’m pretty proud of this creation, which is a combination of influences I found all over the web. It is uniquely my own and I couldn’t believe how amazing it was. The recommended quantity of ingredients is a great place to start, but you could certainly vary the combinations for your own taste buds e.g. jalapeno or lime/orange juice. And even with an avocado base, the dressing stayed pleasantly green for days. And as long as a week, because that’s how long it took me to clean out the blender. 🙂
2 cups masa harina (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
2 cups lukewarm water
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp organic butter
1 lb boneless, skinless organic chicken breast tenderloins
smoked Spanish paprika (I used Penzey’s)
extra virgin olive oil
flour for hands
organic light sour cream, for garnishing
avocado slices, for garnishing
FOR THE DRESSING:
1 ripe avocado
3 tbsp lime juice
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1 cup 100% orange juice
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (I used Bragg’s)
1/4 cup water
1. Lightly season chicken breast tenderloins with olive oil, smoked Spanish paprika, salt and pepper. Bake on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes or until done. When done, take the chicken out to cool and turn oven up to 400 degrees F.
2. Prepare arepa “dough” by combining masa harina and 1/4 tsp salt in a large mixing bowl. Add lukewarm water and stir until smooth. Let mixture sit 10 minutes.
3. Flour your hands and form arepa dough into 1-2 inch patties. To judge your size, this recipe should make about 8 patties. Set individual patties onto buttered skillet and cook for a few minutes each side until golden brown.
4. Transfer patties onto baking sheet and finish in the oven for 5-10 minutes.
5. While the arepas are cooking, combine all dressing ingredients into blender and puree until smooth. Add more water as desired to “thin out” dressing and reach desired consistency.
6. Slice warm arepas in half. Stuff with cooked chicken and avocado slices. Drizzle dressing (don’t be shy!) over arepas and top it off with a dollop of sour cream, if desired.