From guest-poster Luis Molina:
First, a little back story on this dish: pupusas is the traditional dish of El Salvador, where my mother, father, and the rest of my family come from. Growing up, I enjoyed a variety of versions of this dish, with pumpkin, refried beans, chicken, pork, or an herb known as loroco, and all were combined with Monterey Jack cheese. Now, I’ll be the first to admit that this isn’t exactly the healthiest dish in the Latin American countries, but my bias, as a product of people from El Salvador, forces me to tell everyone that this is by far one of the greatest dishes to come out of Central America. Pupusa is a Pipil (indigenous Indian tribe of El Salvador) word that means “sacred food”. Typically, Pupusas are served with a pickled cabbage known as “curtido” and a mild, watery tomato salsa, but, since I did not use them for this dish, I will not be providing the recipe. (I will make available upon request.)
To mitigate some of the “unhealthy” traits of this dish, I’ve used vegan, gluten free, and organic products for this dish. Substitutes have been provided in parentheses.
2 cups of corn flour, I highly suggest using Maseca brand
1 ½ cup of warm water
Pinch of salt
1 cup of grated vegan cheese (Monterey Jack or mozzarella)
Combine the corn flour, salt, and water in a mixing bowl. Hand knead to create a smooth, soft, and moist dough. If the mixture is too dry, slowly add water, about a tablespoon at a time. If it’s too sticky, gradually add corn flour, but a teaspoon at a time. Cover the dough with a clean, moist towel, and let stand for about 15 – 20 minutes.
Gently rub a tiny amount of oil in your hands and form dough into balls no bigger than 2 inches in diameter. Using your thumbs, slowly, make a hole into the balls, forming a little cup.
Fill the cup with about 1 tablespoon of cheese and gently wrap the dough around the filling to seal it. Carefully, making sure to not break the seal or the dough, pat the dough back and forth in your palms to form a round, tortilla-like, disk. Do the same with the remaining balls.
In a lightly oiled skillet, heat on medium high. It should take approximately 3 to 4 minutes to cook on each side – you’ll want a nice, golden brown color.
With Slow Cooked Pork Option:
3 pounds of pork butt, trimmed and cut into cubes
1 tablespoon of salt
1 tablespoon of ground black pepper
Approximately 6 cups of water
1 sweet onion
6 cloves of garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon of ground cinnamon
Combine the salt, pepper, onion, garlic, and cinnamon with the pork and place in a medium saucepan/pot.
Add the water so that it stands no more than 2 inches above the meat. In low heat, bring to a simmer and partially cover the pot to allow the meat to cook until it is tender and some of the liquid has evaporated – about 2 hours and 30 minutes, stirring only a couple of times. Uncover the saucepan/pot and allow the meat to cook for at least another 30 minutes, until it has slightly browned. Drain any remaining liquid, let stand for about 15 minutes, and then transfer to a cutting board to finely chop the meat. After chopping, let it cool for another 30 minutes before combining it with the cheese filling for the dough balls.
Any leftover meat makes for great enchilada filling, tacos, burritos, quesadillas, and even grilled cheese sandwiches!
Beer pairing: Omission IPA by Widmer Brothers Brewing Company
It would be obvious for me to select a beer from El Salvador for this dish, but two reasons I didn’t: 1) Beer from El Salvador is not gluten-free and 2) El Salvador isn’t exactly known for their quality beers. Again, cultural bias obliges me to tell you that beer from El Salvador is one of the best, practically the nectar of the Gods, but I won’t place myself in a position where I have to valid argument to to support those claims. So, for this dish, I have selected a great tasting vegan and gluten-free beer, Omission IPA. This little bottle packs quite the hoppy punch coming in at 6.7% ABV. Pours a nice, golden brown, with slight flavors of honey, bread, and some floral character. A strong competitor to other IPA’s like Stone, Racer 5, and Lagunitas. Salud!