Boris' Reina Pepeada
Last year was a big year for us at Our Kitchen Tales. As we gathered stories and shared meals with all of you, two of us had a lil’ bun in the oven. So we had to take a little hiatus. It lasted a little longer than expected! So when one of my esteemed colleagues, Boris, invited the the team over for Venezuelan arepas, we thought it was a perfect way to jumpstart Our Kitchen Tales.
In Venezuela, arepas are considered the daily bread. In the past, making arepas was a labor intensive process where you would go to the corner store or a neighbor to buy corn and grind it yourself. During the Venezuelan Industrial Age in the 1950's, arepas became popular due to the industrialized production of corn that drastically reduced the preparation time. In the 1960's, Harina Producto Alimenticio Nacional (P.A.N.) cornmeal was created and became a household name.
Arepas are very versatile. They can be stuffed with anything and eaten at anytime. For late night party goers leaving the bar or disco, arepas are quick snacks served at the local arepera. For Boris’ family, arepas are often eaten at breakfast. For gathering of friends and colleagues, arepas can be eaten for lunch. The meal is never too formal or elaborate, just simple and easy.
As mentioned before, arepas can be stuffed with anything – chorizo, cheese, seafood, beef, chicken. Venezuelans have creative names for some of the more standard fillings. Here are a few popular ones:
- La Dominó (Dominoes)- Black bean and grated white cheese
- La Catira (The Blonde One) - Shredded chicken with shredded yellow cheddar cheese
- La Pelúa (The Hairy One) - Shredded/pulled pork with gouda cheese
For this kitchen tale, Boris is making arepas with a traditional stuffing called La Reina Pepeada, “The Queen of the Stuffing”. It is named after a Venezuela’s first international beauty queen, Susan Dujim, who was crowned Miss World in London in 1955. The filling is made with shredded chicken, avocado and mayonnaise.
What a royal treat!
- Mixing bowls
- Baking Sheet
For the Arepas
- 2 cups P.A.N. white cornmeal
- 1.25 cups lukewarm water
- 2 tsp salt
- Dash of oil
For the Filling
- Shredded chicken
- 2 avocado
- 2 tablespoon mayonnaise
- 2 cloves of garlic
- Salt and pepper to taste
1. Prep the Dough
- In a bowl, combine 1 cup white cornmeal and 1.25 cup lukewarm water
- Sprinkle 2 tsp of salt on top and add a dash of oil
- Poke holes in the mixture using fingers so that water can get distributed
- Let sit for 10 minutes
Step 2: Make the Buns
- Using your hands, mix together all the ingredients in the bowl
- Grab a portion of the batter and shape into a round disc
- Add to the skillet on low heat
Step 3: Cook the Arepas
- Cook the arepas slowly on a skillet on low heat
- Once they are golden brown on one side, flip to cook the other side
- Place them in an oven with low heat so they can keep warm
Step 4: Prepare the Filling
- In a blender, combine 2 avocados with 2 scoops of mayonnaise and 2 cloves of garlic. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Add the creamy avocado mixture to shredded chicken.
- To top the mixture, garnish with sliced avocado.
Step 5: Feast on La Reina Pepeada
- Grab an arepa and cut a horizontal to create a pocket.
- Scoop out some of the interior and scrape on the side of a plate. (We'll eat this later!)
- Add a bit of butter in the pocket and fill it with whatever fillings you'd like!
Joining Boris as he made Venezuelan arepas for his team was such an incredible experience. It was really the best way to get back in the kitchen and introduce our baby to these amazing tales that bring people together for food, laughter and community. And as a bonus, after eating Boris' arepas, our baby started crawling!