Seasoned » Recipes » Recipe

Smoked Pulled Pork Arepa With Braised Onions And Monterey Jack Cheese

Smoked Pulled Pork Arepa excerpted from Arepa: Classic and Contemporary recipes for Venezuela’s Daily Bread by Irena Stein.



  • 720 ml (24 fl oz/3 cups) water, at room temperature
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp salt
  • a pinch of sugar (optional)
  • 2-1/2 cups (350 g or 12 oz) Harina P.A.N. pre-cooked white maize flour (cornmeal)
  1. In a large mixing bowl or bowl of an electric mixer, combine the water, oil, salt and sugar (if using). Slowly add the Harina P.A.N. pre-cooked maize fl our (cornmeal) and mix the dough with your hands or electric mixer on medium speed for at least 10 minutes. The dough must be worked for a full 10 minutes to prevent the arepas from cracking when cooked. Once mixed, the dough should be free of lumps and soft to the touch.
  2. Wet a paper towel or clean dish towel and wring out well. Cover the dough and let it sit for 10 minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 230°C (450°F/Gas 8) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  4. Oil your hands. Pull off 170 g (6 oz) of dough and form it into a ball. Flatten the ball with your hands, pressing down to form an 11-cm (4-inch) disc that is 2.5 cm (1 inch) thick. Transfer the arepas to the prepared baking sheet and cover with the damp towel. Repeat with the rest of the dough to make 6 arepas, oiling your hands before forming each disc.
  5. Heat a griddle pan over a medium heat and brush the pan with oil. Working in batches, put the arepas on the pan and cook for 5 minutes on each side or until lightly golden. Return the cooked arepas to the lined baking sheet.
  6. Once griddled, put all the arepas directly on the rack of the hot oven. Bake the arepas for 20 minutes, flipping them after 10 minutes. The arepas are cooked when they have puffed up a bit, are brown in spots, and sound hollow when tapped.
  7. Holding a hot arepa with a clean dish towel, cut three quarters of the way through using a serrated knife. Scoop out some of the soft insides to make room for the filling, leaving the crispy top of the arepa and a little of the soft inner. Add your choice of filling and serve immediately.
Smoked Pulled Pork Arepa excerpted from Arepa: Classic and Contemporary recipes for Venezuela’s Daily Bread by Irena Stein.

Smoked Pulled Pork Arepa With Braised Onions And Monterey Jack Cheese (Arepa de pulled pork ahumado, cebollines a la parrilla, queso Monterey Jack)

Irena Stein
Note: Any leftover barbecue sauce can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge.
Course Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine Venezuelan
Servings 6 people


For the arepas:

  • 1 quantity of basic arepa dough (recipe above)

For the pulled pork:

  • 1 scant cup (200 ml or 7 fl oz) olive oil
  • 1/3 cup (100 g or 3-1/2 oz) garlic paste
  • 1/4 cup (50 g or 1-3/4 oz) brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp sweet smoked paprika 
  • 1 tbsp hot smoked paprika
  • tbsp tbsp onion powder
  • 4 lb 8 oz (2 kg) pork shoulder

For the barbecue sauce:

  • 1 scant cup (200 g or 7 oz) American yellow mustard
  • 3/4 scant cup (150 g or 5 oz) granulated sugar
  • 3/4 scant cup (150 g or 5 oz) brown sugar 
  • 1 scant cup (200 ml or 7 fl oz) apple cider vinegar
  • 2/3 scant cup (150 ml or 5 fl oz) water
  • 1 tbsp hot chilli powder 
  • 1 tbsp each black and white pepper 
  • 4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup (40 g or 1½ oz) unsalted butter 
  • 4 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp liquid smoke (or chipotle chilli powder or smoked salt)

To serve:

  • 1 white onion, grilled
  • 1 avocado, peeled, pitted and sliced 
  • 2 cups (240 g or 8 oz) grated (shredded) Monterey Jack cheese


  • A day ahead, prepare the pulled pork. Combine the oil, garlic paste, sugar and spices in a blender and blitz to a paste. Marinate the pork in this mixture for 12 hours or overnight.
  • The next day, preheat the oven to 120°C (250°F/Gas ½). Place the marinated pork in a roasting pan and cook in the hot oven for 6 hours. 
  • Meanwhile, make the barbecue sauce. In a medium pot, mix all the ingredients except the cayenne pepper, butter, soy sauce and liquid smoke. Add the cayenne pepper and cook over a low heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the butter, soy sauce and liquid smoke and cook over a low heat for a further 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave to cool for 15 minutes before using. 
  • Remove the pork from the oven and pull the meat into shreds using two forks. Add the juices from the bottom of the cooking pan and 400 g (14 oz/1½ cups) of the barbecue sauce. Set aside until ready to serve.
  • Following the basic arepa instructions above, shape the dough into 6 arepas and cook them just before serving. 
  • For the grilled onion, using heatproof tongs, hold the onion directly over an open flame to lightly char the skin all over and give the vegetable a smoky flavor. Do not allow the onion to turn white on the outside. If it does reach the point of whitening, the flesh will be burnt.
  • Wrap the charred onion in foil and cook in a 180°C (350°F/Gas 4) oven for 10 minutes, or until soft when pierced with a fork. Remove the charred skin from the onion. Cut into thin strips and set aside.
  • Split open the arepas and scoop out some of their soft insides to make room for the filling. Lay avocado slices over the base of each arepa, fill the bottom half with pulled pork, then add grilled onions and top with grated (shredded) cheese.


Arepa: Classic and Contemporary recipes for Venezuela’s Daily Bread by Irena Stein (© 2023). Photographs by Irena Stein. Published by Ryland Peters & Small.Recipe reprinted with permission from Arepa: Classic & Contemporary Recipes for Venezuela's Daily Bread by Irena Stein (Ryland Peters & Small, 2023). Photography by Irena Stein.
Keyword Arepa, Irena Stein, Liquid smoke, Pork, Smoked paprika, Soy sauce, Yellow mustard

Follow Us

Stand up for civility

This recipe is funded in large part by Connecticut Public’s Members — listeners, viewers, and readers like you who value fact-based journalism and trustworthy information.

We hope their support inspires you to donate so that we can continue telling stories that inform, educate, and inspire you and your neighbors. As a community-supported public media service, Connecticut Public has relied on donor support for more than 50 years.

Your donation today will allow us to continue this work on your behalf. Give today at any amount and join the 50,000 members who are building a better—and more civil—Connecticut to live, work, and play.