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Thursday, February 12, 2015

Cheese Pupusas with Curtido

This recipe comes from the New York Times, and while we have had very few pupusas in our time, we were moved to try it based on a recent trip to Mexico.  This Salvadorean street food is simple and easy to make.  If you are intimidated by masa harina this is a good place to start because they are more forgiving than tortillas in terms of the texture and wetness of the dough.  Harder to screw up.
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 cups masa harina (9 ounces by weight)
  • 1 ½ cups water or a bit more if the air is very dry
  • 12 ounces chihuahua or mozzarella cheese, grated 
  • Vegetable oil, as needed
  • Curtido, for serving (see below for recipe)

  1. In a large bowl, mix the salt well into the masa harina. With your hands, knead the water into the masa harina in a few additions; work in all the water evenly. The dough will feel like stiff mashed potatoes and should hold together without cracking. Lay a 12-inch square of a plastic grocery bag on a smooth work surface.
  2. Divide the cheese into 9 roughly equal piles. Roll a 2-ounce ball of dough in your hands, about the size of a golf ball, and pat it out in your hand to form a disc a little larger than your palm. (If the dough is very sticky, lightly moisten or oil your hands.) Pat a pile of cheese onto the masa, leaving just a little space around the edges (cup your hand slightly if it helps). Carefully close your hand to bring the edges of the disc closer, and use your other hand to pat and pinch it together to enclose the cheese in a rough ball. Patch any holes with a little more masa, but don’t worry too much — cheese that leaks out will brown deliciously in the pan.  Pat out the pupusa on the plastic square, forming a disc about 4 inches wide.  I used my tortilla press for this part--but don;t push all the way down--the pupusa should be about 1/4" thick. Repeat, forming a second pupusa.  You can make them smaller if you want to have appetizer sized pupusas.
  3. Heat a large nonstick sauté pan over low heat, and very lightly grease it with oil. Place the pupusas in the pan, and cook until richly browned in spots, about 4 minutes.  Don't worry if the cheese starts to bubble out. Flip the pupusas, and cook another 4 minutes, until they’re browned and cooked through. Serve finished ones immediately with curtido.
  • 1 pound cabbage, finely shredded (green or red or both)
  • 2 ½ cups water
  • ½ of a medium onion, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • Ground cumin, to taste
  1. Combine all ingredients in a large, clean bowl. Use your hands to squeeze the vegetables in the brine, then fully submerge them under it.  Put something heavy (and clean) on top if needed. Let sit at room temperature for at least 3 days, or longer to your taste; the flavor will deepen and mellow over time. When it’s to your liking, transfer to clean jars, making sure brine covers the vegetables, and store in the refrigerator. Can keep for weeks.

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