Pupusas (stuffed masa patties)

This recipe is from Central America, and it is very adaptable as well as being quick and easy. Masa is a special kind of cornmeal that is also the main ingredient in corn tortillas. Given the increasing Latino population n the US, and the popularity of the food, you can find masa at almost every supermarket. Do not use regular cornmeal – it must be masa.

The pupusa fillings are limited only by your creativity. Cheese is popular, and I have used both mozzarella and the “Mexican” four cheese blend that you can find at the market. I just buy the pre-shredded cheese, for convenience, but you can of course shred your own. I have also used a meat filling, including red chili beef, ropa viejo, and picadillo. The only limitation is that the filling cannot be soupy or the pupusas might fall apart.

Serving again is very flexible. If you make them on the small side, they can be finger food, while larger ones are more of a “sit down” meal. Vinegary coleslaw goes well with them, sliced avocados, tomatoes, salsa … you get the idea! They reheat well, in a toaster over (not a microwave), and I like to put a couple of fried eggs on a leftover pupusa for a hearty breakfast.

2 c masa flour
1 tsp salt
1-1/2 c water, about

Cover a large cutting board with plastic wrap. Get your filling(s) ready.

Mix the masa and salt then add the water. Mix with your hands and add a bit more water if needed to get a moist dough that will not crack when pressed out. Take a bit of dough about the size of a ping-pong ball or a golf ball and use your hands to press it out to a disk of the desired size. They should be thin, perhaps 1/4 inch at most. Wet your hands if the dough sticks to them. Place each disk on the plastic wrap and continue until half the dough is used.

Place some filling on the center of each masa disk. Not too much, you’ll get the hang of it pretty quickly. Perhaps 3 TB for a four inch disk.

Continue making more disks with the remaining dough, and place each on top of the filling that you placed on the first set of disks. Use your fingers to seal the edges together and pat the “sandwich” into a flat round. It’s important that the pupusa be flat, without a bulge in the middle, for them to cook properly. If a little bit of filling leaks out, that’s OK.

Heat one or more large nonstick skillets over medium heat. Add oil to create a thin layer, perhaps 1/8 inch. When the oil is hot, add the pupusas. Cook for about 4-5 minutes until the bottom of the pupusas is nicely browned. The browning won’t be even, that’s fine. Flip and repeat cooking until the second side is nicely browned. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate. If you have more to cook, keep the first batch warm in a 300 degree oven. A last minute sprinkle of salt can be nice.

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