For Venezuelans, the arepa is something that is eaten daily, sometimes even more often than bread itself. This easy recipe will show you how simple it is to make authentic and delicious arepas at home. You can fill these arepas with whatever you like the most and enjoy them at any time of the day.
The arepas can be filled with anything you want (cheese, ham, beans, beef, chicken, avocado). They are very practical in that regard, but there are some fillings that are considered classic and I recommend you try:
1- Arepa de Perico: Perico translates as parrot or parakeet and is a mix of scrambled egg, onion, tomato and condiments that is perfect for breakfasts or light dinners.
2- Arepa Reina Pepiada: This traditional Venezuelan arepa’s filling is a mixture of seasoned shredded chicken, mayonnaise and avocado. Some people slice the avocado but most generally make an avocado pure and mix it with the chicken and mayonnaise.
3- Arepa Domino: Filled with grated white cheese and “caraotas” or black beans
4- Arepa Pelúa: This filling is a mixture of stewed shredded beef and grated cheddar cheese.
Of course those are just a few options, personally I love an arepa with butter, ham and cheese accompanied by a large cup of coffee with milk. Remember that you can make them as thick or thin as you want. Sometimes I make them very thin and I don’t open them but place “the filling” on the arepa as if it were toast.
I promise you that after making this recipe once or twice you will not need to read it again because it is so simple that you will know it by heart.
Homemade Venezuelan Arepas
- 2 cups of precooked cornmeal Harina P.A.N. is the most popular and easiest to find in the US
- 2 1/2 cups of water
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 tsp of salt add more to taste
- In a large container, add the water and salt. Combine until the salt dissolves completely.
- Add the first cup of precooked cornmeal.
- Using your hands, begin mixing the ingredients. Be careful not to leave any lumps in the batter.
- Add the second cup of flour and finish kneading until you get a smooth and uniform dough. Again, check for lumps. If you get any large lumps just flatten it with your fingers and knead again to get the perfect texture.
- Place a large skillet or griddle over low heat and add the butter to melt.
- Divide the dough into balls a little larger than a golf ball. With the palm of your hand, flatten the balls to create the shape of a thick tortilla. How flat should it be? It depends on each one, personally I like it very thin but remember that they will be stuffed so always leave enough thickness to open them in the middle.
- Cook the arepas over low heat until golden brown on both sides. It is important that they are not cooked over high heat because they could burn on the outside and remain raw on the inside.
- Repeat the process with all the dough and go placing the ones that are already ready in a large plate or basket.
- Cut an opening in the middle of the arepa and stuff it with your choice of fillings.