Naturally gluten-free, arepas are crispy cornmeal cakes that can be customized to suit many dietary needs. Traditionally a part of Colombian and Venezuelan cuisine, and thought to have originated in pre-Columbian South America as a regular part of the indigenous peoples’ diet, arepas are traditionally fried or cooked on a griddle. In this recipe, arepas are cooked with a small amount of fat, and made thinner and crispier, for a lighter take on this traditional recipe. A small amount of shredded chicken adds easy-to-digest protein, and a topping of guacamole and colorful vegetables makes for a festive and satisfying New Year’s meal.
For the dough:
3 c. masarepa (pre-cooked cornmeal, available at most grocery stores)
1 c. water
2 t. salt (or salt to taste)
¼ c. Chihuahua cheese
For the chicken:
2 T. sofrito (jarred tomato-based seasoning, available at most grocery stores)
1 c. cooked, shredded chicken
1 t. butter
1 t. olive oil
Mashed avocado + salt or guacamole
Slivers of sweet red bell pepper
Sliced chiles or chili pepper flakes
- Combine masarepa, water, and salt in a bowl, and mix until well combined. Let sit at room temperature for 5 minutes.
- While dough sets, heat 2 T. of sofrito in a pan until warm, and add chicken until well mixed.
- After the dough has rested and the chicken has cooled slightly, mix the chicken and cheese into the dough.
- Heat butter and oil in a large non-stick pan or griddle over medium heat. (Electric griddles work especially well.)
- Using your hands, make 8-10 golf ball sized balls of the arepa dough.
- Place the balls of dough on the pan, and flatten with the back of a spatula.
- Cook 4 minutes per side or until crispy, then turn the arepas like a pancake to cook the other side.
- Serve warm, topped with guacamole and garnished with red pepper, onion, or chiles. Traditional accompaniments include butter, cheese, and salt.