A few years ago, my husband and I spent a summer in New York. We got to sample an amazing variety of food while we were there and one of our favorite neighborhood restaurants was a Venezuelan one called El Cocotero. We had never had Venezuelan food before and we quickly became hooked to all the different kinds of arepas they had on their menu. Reina pepiada was my husband's absolute favorite kind of arepa. It had a delicious chicken and avocado filling stuffed inside freshly made arepas. It was so, so good!
This dish is my attempt to recreate the reina pepiadas we gorged on in New York, with my own little spin on it. Since I did not have access to fresh arepas, I have substituted them with Mexican tortas (I found them at Costco) but I imagine that any good quality, crusty bread would work well for this sandwich. Try it sometime! —Madhuja
chicken thighs (about 5 small thighs)
white onion, small diced
garlic cloves, minced
fresh corn kernels
ripe Hass avocados, peeled and flesh scooped out
Preheat oven to 375F. On a lined baking sheet add the chicken thighs and drizzle olive oil, salt and pepper on it, making sure that every piece gets well coated. Bake for about 35 minutes, or until the thighs are completely cooked through. Let it rest until the meat comes to room temperature and then shred it into bite sized pieces.
On medium heat add olive oil to a saute pan. Add the onions, garlic and corn kernels with a pinch of salt, and saute until the onion and corn both start getting light brown at the edges. Set aside and let it cool to room temperature.
In a big bowl add the avocado flesh and the zest and juice of the limes. Mash it into a smooth paste with a fork. Add the cooled shredded chicken and the cooled onion and corn mixture and mix well. Check for seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed. Add the chopped cilantro and mix one more time. The sandwich filling is done!
To serve, slice the torta down the middle, lightly toast it and then pile on the chicken avocado filling in the middle. Enjoy!