Chicken Sliders on Venezuelan Arepas
Lorena Garcia's Arepa Chicken Sliders
For the Chicken Sliders:
2 tablespoons Vegetable Oil
1 large Egg
1 pound boneless skinless Chicken Breasts (cut into 1/2-inch cubes)
1/2 Jalapeno Pepper (halved; seeded; deveined; finely chopped)
2 Scallions (white and light green parts onl
- For the Venezuelan Arepas: Adjust oven racks to the upper-middle and lower-middle positions, and preheat to 350º.
- Whisk together corn flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Set aside.
- Whisk the butter into 2 1/2 cups of water, then add it to the flour mixture, stirring until combined. Once the flour begins to absorb the water, stir in the queso fresco. Continue kneading the dough in the bowl and once it becomes very soft and doesn't stick to your hands (after about 8 minutes) the dough is ready to be shaped. If, while kneading, the dough seems to stiff and breaks apart, add a few tablespoons of hot water. If it's too sticky, add a sprinkle of corn flour.
- Divide the dough into 16 equal balls and flatten each between your palms into a 3 1/2 to 4-inch patty that's about 1/3 inch thick. For less rustic-looking arepas, press the arepa into a disk using a flat-bottomed plate; you can wet your hands with a little water if the dough is slightly sticky.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat for 2 minutes. Add 3 or 4 arepas to the pan (depending on the pan size); the arepas should sizzle as they hit the skillet. Cook the arepas until they're golden brown and have a nice crust, about 6-8 minutes. Flip them and brown on the other side for an additional 6-8 minutes. Transfer the arepas to a baking sheet and set side. Repeat with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil (if the pan is dry) and the remaining arepa dough disks (you'll probably need to use two baking sheets to bake the arepas).
- Bake the arepas until they puff up, 20-30 minutes, switching the pans so the top baking sheet is on the bottom and the bottom moves up to the tip, midway through cooking. Remove from the oven before stuffing with slider ingredients.
- For the Almond Pesto: Whisk together the olive oil, almonds, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, basil, and garlic in a medium bowl and set aside.
- For the Chicken Sliders: Pour the vegetable oil into a large bowl and whisk in the egg. Add the chicken, the jalapeno, scallions, cilantro, and salt and stir to combine. Stir in the bread crumbs and then divide the mixture into 4 balls. Slightly flatten each ball into a 1 1/2-inch-thick patty and set aside.
- Prepare a hot charcoal or gas grill. Grill the burgers until they are golden brown on one side, about 5 minutes. Flip over the burgers and place a mozzarella round on top of the burger. Cook until the underside is golden brown and the cheese is melted, about 5 minutes longer.
- Slice a slit into the top edge of each arepa and gently wiggle a paring knife into the arepa, slicing it in half like a bun. Place a burger on each arepa bottom. Top with a tomato slice and then spoon some almond pesto on top. Cover with the top half of the arepa and serve.