I love Arepas and here’s a classic filling for these little Venezuelan buns. These are Chicken Avocado Arepas, and the filling is so creamy, cool, and delish! It does have a little more personality than you might expect from your everyday basic Chicken & Avocado Sandwich Spread.
Of course, you might expect that once you’re working with a dish from any of our Latin American neighbors. Taking a few hints from their cuisine pretty much is always a game-changer and a fun way to up the ante in the flavor department.
About Chicken Avocado Arepas:
The filling is classic, based on the Reina Pepiadais, which is what this style of Arepas is called in their native country. They were named in honor of Susana Dujim, Miss World 1995. (Reina means “queen” in Spanish, and pepiadais, I understand, is perhaps most politely translated as “curvy.”) It always has chicken & avocado but from there, every family and restaurant has their own little special touches.
Mine has a little red bell pepper, a touch of vinegar, and just a hint of jalapeno along with a couple little green/crunchy additions. Still very classic but never boring! And once you taste that filling (which is fabulous on its own, btw, or on plain old bread or hamburger bun) on a fresh, warm, and fragrant Arepa, you’re gonna get just why this little sandwich is so very popular.
I want to note that I’m doing an update to this post and moving the actual recipe for the Arepa, the bun, to a new post with more detail and clarity in how to make them…but since today we’re right in the middle of our shutdown for Covid-19 (It’s mid-April 2020) as I made these again, I used less Avocado than I normally would and that reflects in the photos! Picture them with more more more Avocado (always a good thing as far as I’m concerned) and know the full amount is called for in the recipe.
More About Arepas:
The Arepa itself is just basically a bun, as you can see, and they’re super easy and actually fun to make and best of all, you can make a very passable one w/o much effort or skill. But of course, like with anything, you’ll get better and better the more you make them. Here’s my recipe for the actual Arepa.
While I love Arepas with this Chicken and Avocado filling, any Arepas can be filled and stuffed with all manner of things/ Hit your translate button to see all the classic Venezualan variations. Arepas can be served plain, or maybe dragged through a salsa, too.
My fave salsa with these Arepas has got to be my Aji Salsa. There’s just something about the combination of the Chicken/Avocado filling and that Aji Salsa that’s downright ridiculous! To make your Arepas fell like more than a meal than a sandwich you can serve with rice or beans or a slaw, like this Mexican Red Cabbage Slaw, and I’ve been eating my Arepas lately with this Roasted Corn and Black Bean Salsa. And for garnish, you can never go wrong with a little lime on the plate, another ingredient I’m missing due to circumstances.
Making Chicken Avocado Arepas:
There’s nothing “hot” about these arepas, except the bit of jalapeno in the recipe to give it a little zing, and the chicken, itself is plainly cooked. Just simmer it gently with a little thinly sliced onion & some salt and pepper in water set so low, the bubbles are just breaking the surface several times a minute and you’ll have the best, moist chicken. Even better if you can let the chicken cool in the broth, maybe as you get everything else ready and make the actual Arepas. The chicken needs to be room temperature at least before you mix up the salad, so that works out just perfectly.
The first thing, after shredding the chicken, is to sprinkle it with the vinegar. It really is kind of amazing what that acid to the flavor. Lime juice will work, too, but vinegar is my fave in this. Then add in the rest of the ingredients, mayo last, and use just enough mayo so the filling holds together.
I do think it’s best if the ingredients are finely diced so they kind of blend in rather than leaving them chunky. As far as the avocado, if you want to, you can mush up your avocado or leave it in small chunks, it really doesn’t matter. It’s more personal taste. And if you have guacamole, just sayin’, that about 1/2 cup or so could be used instead of the avocado. Thank goodness I don’t have a Venezualan grandmother to correct me on that one, lol, but guac would be delish as part of the filling.
Saving Money on Chicken Avocado Arepas:
It really doesn’t take much of this Chicken Avocado to fill up the arepas, but I do like to pile it on! That’s just because it’s how I first saw them presented when I saw them on a Diner’s Drive-In and Dives episode, Gone Global rerun. They inspired me, although this recipe is a little different. You can make a little less of this filling and stretch it if the budget it tight.
There’s no need to ever pay full price for chicken – it goes on sale too often. It pays to know the difference between a good sales price and a rock bottom sales price (usually about once a quarter) and stock up at the low. Often these are larger family packs so portion out in sizes suitable for meals for your family and freeze. I prefer breasts which are usually more than budget chicken thighs, although many prefer thighs for being moister.
Leftover chicken works well in this recipe, too, and it’s always fabulous to find a way to rework your leftovers. If the leftover chicken seems a little dry and/or dense, try steaming it in just a bit of broth to soften it, then let it cool to room temperature. If you have any of your filling and no Arepas left to serve it with, make a sandwich or a standard or lettuce wraps!
Avocados can be crazy expensive or more reasonable. Most of the time I’ll make recipes with avocado when I see them on sale. I don’t know if I’ve seen them at the buyer’s club but usually at Aldi (and sometimes at the grocery store) they’ll be both sold individually and bagged. Look closely if they are all in a bag and make sure they’re all sound and not bruised or overripe.
The other ingredients are just a smidge of this and a smidge of that; just make sure you have a use for them. Wrap them and keep them and any partially used veggie or fruit in the door of your fridge where you can keep a close eye on them. Eggs keep better on the bottom shelf of the fridge, so maybe keep your veggies where most people put the eggs.
Chicken Avocado Arepas
- Total Time: 35 minutes
- Yield: 4 servings (2 arepas each) 1x
- Category: Sandwiches
- Cuisine: Venezuelan
- 12 ounces (3/4 pound) skinless, boneless chicken breasts (or use leftover chicken)
- 1/2 small onion, thinly sliced
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon distilled white or apple cider vinegar, plus more to taste
- 1/2 jalapeno seeded and minced (optional)
- 1/2 cup seeded and diced (1/4-inch) red bell pepper (optional)
- 1 green onion, white and green parts, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
- 2 ripe Hass avocados, pitted, diced
- scant 1/4 cup mayonnaise (start with three of four tablespoons and increase as needed)
- 8 arepas (see my recipe)
- cilantro and lime for garnish, if desired.
- salsa of choice, optional
Place the chicken breasts and onion in a medium saucepan and add enough cold water to cover by 1 inch. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until the chicken is cooked through, about 10 to 12 minutes. Cool chicken in liquid, if time allows (It helps to keep the chicken moist.) Drain chicken & onion. Roughly shred chicken & reserve onion.
In a bowl, add the shredded chicken and onion. Sprinkle with the vinegar. Add in the jalapeno, bell pepper, green onion, cilantro, parsley, and avocado. Lightly mix. Stir in just enough mayonnaise to moisten and hold together the rest of the ingredients. Either stir carefully, keeping the avocado intact or “mush” in the avocado; either way is delicious.
Taste and season with additional salt and pepper and /or add a little more vinegar if needed. There should be a pleasant slight tanginess without being “sour.” Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Serve in still warm arepas and serve with additional cilantro and/or lime and salsa.
Nutrition: (1/4) of the recipe) Calories: 216; Calories from Fat 114, 58%; Total Fat 13g; Cholesterol 40.37mg; Sodium 144mg; Total Carbohydrate 10.6g; fiber 3.8g; Sugar 2.38g; Protein 14.89g
Keywords: Avocado, Bargain Meal of the Week, Bell Peppers, Bread, Chicken, Chicken Salad, cornmeal, Diners Drive Ins and Dives, Hot Peppers, La Caraquena, leftover Chicken, Sandwiches, South American, Venezuela
I’ll be sharing my Shredded Chicken (Pollo Mechado) Arepas at Fiesta Friday #325 this week, cohosted by me! That’s right, me! Also, I’ll be posting at The Weekend Potluck, a collaborative sharing site run by several of my favorite bloggers.