Never Too Old for Playdough: Pupusas (Salvadorian StuffedTortillas)


It’s squishy, soft, squeezable and pliable. You can mold it, model it, build it and…eat it? Yes, it’s not play dough, it’s pupusa dough. It’s easy to make and fun to do. Parents, it’s time to put the kids to work for dinner tonight.
Pupusas are thick and chewy tortillas made from masa and stuffed with meat, beans and/or soft cheese. They are traditionally made in El Salvador and are typically served with curtido, a mixture of pickled cabbage, carrot, onion and oregano. The tangy slaw brings out the savory flavor of the pupusa and adds a bit of crunch to the chewy tortilla.
When I told my boys we were making pupusas tonight they were thrilled. They love to help with these. And with the quickness needed in making these to avoid drying of the dough, the help was welcomed by me. And I love teaching my kids in the kitchen.
Chicken, Black Bean and Cheese Pupusas
Cooking Method:
Cooking oil for frying or griddle and cooking spray for grilling.

1/2 head of cabbage (I used purple and green for color)
2 carrots, grated
1/2 white onion, sliced thin
1 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup water
1 Tb sugar
2 tsp oregano
boiling water

To prepare the curtido, combine the cabbage, carrots and onion in a bowl. Cover with boiling water and allow to steep for 5 minutes. Drain well.

Combine the remaining ingredients and pour over the slaw mixture. Let marinate and chill in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.

5 cups masa harina (corn flour)
4 cups water
1 tsp salt

Combine all ingredients in mixer and mix well, or optionally stir well with a wooden spoon. Divide into 24 equal portions. Dough should be soft and pliable.

1 chicken breast, about 1/2 pound, cooked
1 cup black beans (I used leftover tangy black beans)
1 cup cheese, any type, soft Mexican cheese is traditional

Combine filling ingredients in food processor to form a paste.

Flatten each dough portion with palms of hands into disc slightly larger than palm. Add one rounded tablespoon filling to center of masa disc.
Carefully fold dough over filling to resemble a half moon, almost like an empanada. Pinch edges to seal.
Reshape half moon into circle and flatten, being careful not to let the filling seep through.
Now my husband likes his pupusas fried. They are extra chewy with a nice crisp on the outside. I prefer mine lightly brushed with oil and grilled. So we do both variations. Either way you cook them, they take about 2-3 minutes per side.
Serves 12. Prep 45 minutes. Cook time 20 minutes.
Angel making his pupusa. He really enjoyed this. His friend helped too! And then he rushed off to finish his video game.
Jesse really had fun making pupusas. In fact he was the best at it. I told him this, and then of course, as brothers do, he told Angel and his friend, “Mom says I make them better than you!” Oi, I had to smother my laughter.
Finicky Shark tip: Jesse ate his pupusa without the curtido, and instead smothered it with butter and parmesan cheese, like a Mexican style corn.
These pupusas are done, some fried and some grilled, all delicious!
This is a fried pupusa, cut into quarters for my youngest boy. They look like stuffed tortillas chips, don’t they?

Anyway you serve these up, they are delicious. Try them with sour cream or even guacamole, with fresh pico de gallo, and of course the curtido. These tender crisp delights will be sure to keep you and your children busy in the kitchen, and of course, make wonderful memories. And fill up your tummy too!

What are you going to stuff in your Pupusa?