Around the holidays, I made some Mexican tamales, those were oh so good, we’re still eating on them. But I had a bit of the corn masa leftover… oh, what to do? What to do? The Hubbz loves Salvadorian pupusas and has been asking me to try my hand at them for a while. Leftover masa? Perfect opportunity.
White corn is very popular throughout all of Central America, except for Panama. In my little country, yellow corn is king, the white variety wasn’t really known until recent years.
Pupusas, a funny name for the Spanish speakers, but a seriously delicious treat. Salvadorian pupusas are similar to Venezuelan arepas and Mexican gorditas, except that pupusas are filled, then grilled. A sort of round corn empanada, really. Most commonly, you’ll find these filled with chicharrón (fatty, crisp pork), cheese and black beans. However, fillings are only limited by the cook’s imagination.
I opted to go for the cheese and chicharrón filling. Since I had rendered some pork fat, I was in possession of some choice pork cracklings and there’s ALWAYS queso fresco in da’ house! Check it out:
Pork & Cheese Pupusas
I mixed some of the fresh masa with a bit of pork lard and seasoned it with salt. It isn’t necessary to add either of those things, but I find the corn masa to be bland and dry and I wanted a flavorful, moist pupusa. If you’re using dry masa, simply follow the packaging instructions and add enough water to have a somewhat soft and pliable dough, season or not as you prefer. Shape the masa into balls.
Then flatten and begin adding the filling. I’ve seen this done from a single ball that is stuffed and flattened, but I found it a lot easier to use 2 flatten balls, put the filling on top of one and top with the other half. Seal the edges by pinching them together.
If you have a comal or a cast iron skillet, that’s the best way to grill these. If not, any non-stick skillet will work. Brown on each side over medium temperature. You want to make sure the dough cooks through and the filling is warmed up, so watch the temperature. They should sound kinda hollow when you thump them, that’s how I know they’re cooked through.
Typically, these are served with curtido, a pickled cabbage salad. I’m not a cabbage fan, but I did have pickled carrots and I made a dipping sauce with crema fresca and homemade salsa. Yum!
Here’s more pupusa action here.