This pupusas recipe for stuffed corn cakes is for when the cupboards are nearly bare, and you need a hearty handheld meal—and you need it fast!
What are pupusas?
This pupusas recipe, for El Salvadoran corn cakes made with masa and stuffed with yummy stuff like garlic, onions, cheese, pork, or beans, is absolutely one of my go-to recipes. They’re naturally gluten free, and they could not be simpler.
I have a special place in my heart for Latin American cuisine, since so much of it is naturally gluten-free. They’re not wheat junkies like we Americans are.
Pupusas can be filled with cheese alone. I filled them with beans, cheese and some spices. They’re awesome with pulled pork, if you happen to have some of that lyin’ around.
About the method
You can make pupusas with two pancakes of masa dough instead of just one. But that yields a more doughy result, one I don’t particularly care for, since masa harina (a cured cornmeal) alone tends to be bland.
In this pupusas recipe, I make them with only one flat pancake. You simply flatten the dough into a pancake, create a well in the center, fill it, and then shape the masa around the filling.
Keep in mind that this is like any other new cooking technique: the first few tend to turn out much less beautiful. But you’ll hit your stride soon before the batter runs out. The next time you make them, you hit your stride a little sooner.
But any which way you go about it, and whatever they look like, they taste really savory, and they’re easy, cheap to make, versatile, and naturally gluten-free. ¡Comemos!
P.S. If you’ve fallen in love with masa harina corn flour, try using it to make fresh corn tortillas. So easy!
Like this recipe?
Prep time:Cook time:Yield:6 pupusas
2 cups (264 g) gluten free masa harina corn flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups (12 fluid ounces) lukewarm water
1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
Ground cumin, chili powder, kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 cups melting cheese, like Monterey jack, grated
Line a plate or rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set it aside. In a large bowl, place the masa harina, and salt, and mix to combine. Create a well in the center, and pour in about 10 fluid ounces of the water. Mix to combine. The dough should not be sticky, and not dry, but should be a bit tacky to the touch. Add more water by the tablespoonful, mixing to combine, until there are no crumbly bits. The dough is easier to work with a little too wet than a little too dry. Cover the bowl and set it aside for 5 minutes to allow the masa to absorb the liquid.
While the dough is resting, in a separate, medium-sized bowl, place the beans. Add the desired spices to taste, and mix to combine. Place the cheese in a small bowl beside the beans. Place a small bowl with warm water beside the cheese.
Check the dough. If it appears too dry, add a tablespoon of water, wet your hands in the water bowl, and work the water in to the dough. Once the dough is ready, divide it into 6 even parts. Take each piece of dough and roll it into a ball with wet hands. Then, a rhythmic motion, pat the dough between wet palms until it flattens. If it splits along the edges, just press it back together. Pupusas are not meant to rise when cooking, so a tight seal around the edges is not necessary.
Press the center of the flattened dough gently into the palm of your hand to create a well for the filling. Add a spoonful of the black beans to the well, and top with a couple tablespoons of grated cheese. The dough will be nearly covered with filling. Then, with the hand that is cradling the pupusa, begin to close the edges of the dough toward the center, rotating the ball in your hand as you work. Your free hand should help to thin the dough a bit to cover the filling. Once the filling is covered with the dough, pat the dough flat again between moistened palms. Place on the lined plate or baking sheet, and repeat with the remaining pieces of dough and filling.
Heat a 12-inch cast iron pan over medium-high heat. Place as many pupusas as will fit without crowding one another in the pan, and allow to cook on one side for about 3 minutes, or until the underside is no longer shiny and beginning to brown. Flip the pupusas with a metal spatula, and allow to cook on the other side for another 3 to 4 minutes. Serve warm.
Originally published on the blog in 2011 (!). Recipe unchanged, photos, video and text all new.