I’ve been on a bit of a Latin kick recently and the other other day I decided to try my hand at making Pupusas. Pupusas are a snack popular in El Salvador and Honduras, that can best be described as a stuffed tortilla, though that description doesn’t quite do the dish justice. Traditionally, the pupusas are stuffed with either cheese or chicharron, or a combination of the 2, though it can be filled with many different things. I chose to fill my pupusas with cheese and shredded pork that I had braised in beer and salsa.
Making pupusas is easy, perfecting them is difficult and takes lots of practice. It’s fun to watch them being made by someone who really knows what they are doing, and it’s mind blowing that they can do it so quickly without allowing any of the filling to poke through. While mine turned out well, they could have been a bit thinner, bigger and rounder, but these issues didn’t affect the taste one bit.
Pupusas are usually served with curtido, a type of cabbage slaw that adds a wonderful, fresh crunch to the dish and a nice hit of acidity to liven it up. I didn’t make any this time and was sorry I didn’t as it really adds to the dish.
Finally, if you are not familiar with Latin foods, you must seek out Masa Harina, a type of corn flour, for this dish. It has become pretty common in most supermarkets nowadays as our Latino population continues to grow. Regular corn flour or corn meal is not an acceptable substitute as it doesn’t have the same flavor and doesn’t seem to hold together the way masa harina does.
1 pound Pork Stew meat, cubed
1 Tbsp. Vegetable Oil
6 oz. Beer
1/4 cup Salsa (homemade is preferable)
1/4 cup Ketchup
2 cups Masa Harina
1 cup Water
Cheese (A good Queso Blanco if you can find it, if not then use Monterey Jack)
Heat a skillet over high heat and add oil. When oil is hot add pork, season with salt and pepper and brown on all sides. Add beer, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook for 30 minutes. Add salsa and ketchup. Cover again and cook until pork is tender, approximately 20 minutes more. Uncover, and mash the pork with a spoon or whip to shred it. Continue to cook until most of the liquid has evaporated. Allow to cool to room temperature. Once pork is cool make the dough by combining the water and the masa harina. Allow to sit for 8-10 minutes to allow the dough to fully hydrate. Divide into 8 portions. Pat each portion into a circle approximately 6 inches in diameter. Take 1 1/2 Tbsp. of the filling and 1 Tbsp. of the cheese and place it in the center of the dough circle. Bring the dough up around the filling, completely encasing the filling and sealing any cracks. Using your hands press the filled ball into a 6 inch circle again. It should be just under 1/4 inch thick. This takes practice to get them perfect, but is pretty easy to make a passable product. Heat a skillet (cast iron works the best) over medium high heat and cook, without adding any oil, for approximately 4-5 minutes minutes on each side. Serve immediately as these are best when hot and still crispy on the outside. Garnish with curtido or with a salsa of your choice.
1 medium head cabbage, shredded
4 cups Water, boiling
2 small carrots, grated
1 small onion, sliced
1 each Jalapeno, seeded and minced
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1/4 cup vinegar
1/2 cup water
Pour boiling water over cabbage and allow to sit for 5 minutes. Drain off water and squeeze most of the water out of the cabbage. Combine with all the other ingredients and stir to combine. Place in the refrigerator and allow to marinate for at least 2 hours before serving.