Made from masa dough — which is also the base for tortillas, tamales and other Latin cooking staples — pupusas are thick corn cakes filled with a variety of ingredients such as pork, chicken, cheese or beans. For certain, they are always served with curtido, a wonderfully crunchy and tangy cabbage slaw, and a simple red salsa.
Most of the components of pupusas can be prepared a day ahead, leaving the pressing, patting, stuffing and grilling for the hour before eating. Invite your friends and kids to join in for a fun and interactive day in the kitchen.
This recipe is by Laura Levy Shatkin and was originally published in the Chicago Tribune.
Look for masa, also labeled as masa flour or masa harina, in the "ethnic" aisle of the grocery store or in Latin markets.
- 1 1/3 Cup shredded mozzarella
- 1 1/3 Cup shredded white cheddar cheese or queso fresco
- 2 1/4 Cups cup corn masa harina
- 1/2 Teaspoon salt
- 2 Cups water
- Canola oil
Step 1: Make the cheese filling. In a bowl, combine 1 1/3 cups shredded mozzarella and 1 1/3 cups shredded white cheddar cheese or queso fresco. Set aside.
Step 2: Make the dough. Combine 2 1/4 cup corn masa harina and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a large bowl; add 2 cups water. Mix with hands to combine. Fold over and knead dough until a moist ball forms. Cover with a damp towel or plastic wrap to keep dough moist.
Step 3: Form tortillas. Cover countertop with a 10-by-10-inch sheet of plastic wrap or parchment paper. Set out a small bowl of water and a small bowl of canola oil. Pinch off 1/2 cup of dough and form it into a ball; continue rolling dough to form 8-10 round balls.
Step 4: Working with 1 ball at a time, dampen hands with water, press dough in between both hands and continue patting to form a disc. Lay disc down on the counter and press dough out into a 7-inch round disc with hands or a rolling pin to approximately 1/4-inch thick. Repeat with other dough balls. Stack tortillas with plastic wrap in between each to avoid sticking.
Step 5: Form pockets. Coat one palm with oil and place one tortilla into oiled hand. Cup the dough in your hand and place 1/3 cup cheese filling (or filling of choice) into center of tortilla.
Step 6: Wrap edges of dough around the filling, then close up ball of dough into a baseball shape, pinching the edges together and pinching off excess dough. (Set aside excess pinched-off dough to make mini tortillas to grill up and serve with salsa as a snack.)
Step 7: Dab hands with a few drops of oil, then pat filled tortilla ball into another disc, distributing filling out to the edges. Flatten to 4-5 inches in diameter. Patch small tears in dough, if needed, to prevent oozing while cooking. Set on lightly oiled sheet pan and continue with remaining dough balls. If stacking finished pupusas, separate layers with plastic wrap or parchment to avoid sticking.
Step 8: Cook pupusas. Heat a griddle to medium-high heat and lightly oil. Grill pupusas for approximately 5-6 minutes per side, flipping occasionally as needed, until both sides are nicely browned. Serve immediately (or return to baking sheet and store in 350F oven until entire batch is completed.)
Step 9: Serve. Place warm, grilled pupusa on plate and slice into quarters or halves. Top with crunchy curtido and a dollop of red salsa.