Simply De-Lite-Ful: Pupusas and more!

      Alice Bolen's Pupusas
      Pupusas, a traditional dish from El Salvador, are thicker corn tortillas with a filling which can be meat (usually finely ground pork or shredded chicken), a bean mixture, or if your diet allows it, cheese. Pupuasas are cooked on a griddle, and served with a pickled cabbage slaw called curtido and thin tomato sauce (salsa roja). The Avocado sauce is also delicious.
      Yield: About 6 -8 pupusas.

      • 3 cups masa harina (corn flour for making tortillas)
      • 1 1/2 cups warm water (more if needed to make a soft dough resembling play dough)
      • 1/2 teaspoon salt (optional, but gives better flavor)

      Meat, bean mixture or cheese for fillings. Recipes below. I offer shredded cheese like low fat Mexican blend cheese, Queso Fresco, etc. as a filling for those of my guests or family who don't have dietary restrictions.
      Top with either or both of the sauces, fat free sour cream and sliced avocado or a little chopped, fresh cilantro to garnish. Serve Curtido as a topping or on the side. Also good with shredded lettuce for those who might prefer it over the cabbage.

      • In a large bowl, mix the masa harina with the water and salt, stirring well. Add more water if necessary to obtain a soft dough that does not crack around the edges when flattened. Work with fingers until it comes together and knead for about 1 minute..
      • Let the dough rest, covered with plastic wrap, for about 15 minutes.
      • Divide dough into pieces about 1/3 cup each. Form each piece into a ball of dough, then holding it in the pam of your hand, make an indentation in the ball with the fingers of your other hand, making it like a little cup. Place filling of choice in the indentation, and carefully wrap dough around the filling to seal. Flatten ball into a disk, about 1/4 inch thick, being careful to keep filling from leaking out of the edges. (this takes a little practice). If there is a little filling that escapes, it's okay. You can make ahead to this point, placing formed and filled pupusas on a plate, separated with plastic wrap or waxed paper. Cover and refrigerate till ready to cook.
      • Lightly spray the surface of a heavy skillet or griddle with cooking spray. Heat the skillet or griddle over medium heat, and place the pupusas on the cooking surface. Allow to brown on each side, like a tortilla, flipping as necessary 2-3 minutes on each side. Remove from heat and serve warm with Curtido, Salsa Roja or Avocado sauce. If you prefer, you can serve with shredded lettuce as well.
      • If you prefer, you can form the dough into discs about 1/4 inch thick, grill till lightly browned on each side and serve open face with fillings piled on top, tostada style.

      Curtido (Salvadoran Cabbage Slaw)
      Makes about 4 cups

      • 1/2 head cabbage, shredded
      • 1 large carrot, grated
      • 1/2 onion, thinly sliced
      • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
      • 1/4 cup water
      • 1/2 teaspoon salt
      • 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
      • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
      • 1 small jalapeno pepper cut in large slices. (I remove as many seeds as possible to minimize the heat.)

      Combine the cabbage, carrot, and onion in a large bowl. Combine the remaining ingredients in a separate bowl and then pour over the cabbage mixture and stir.
      Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Keeps up to a week.

      Salsa Roja

      • 3-4 medium tomatoes, cored and roughly chopped (or 1 15 oz can of whole tomatoes)
      • 1/4 cup chopped onion
      • 1 clove garlic, chopped
      • 1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
      • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
      • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
      • 2 teaspoons salt

      Add everything except water to a blender. Add 1/2 cup or water and blend till smooth. You want the salsa to be pretty thin, so add more water as needed.
      Transfer the salsa to a saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce heat and cook for 7-10 minutes till it thickens slightly. (It will still be thin.) Taste and adjust seasons as necessary.. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Transfer to a jar and serve or refrigerate up to 1 week.

      Avocado Sauce

      • 1 ripe avocado
      • 1/2 jalapeno pepper, stemmed, seeded and quartered (more if you like it hot)
      • 1 cup water (or a little more to thin it out a bit)
      • 1 Tablespoon white vinegar
      • 1 teaspoon salt
      • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
      • 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
      • 2 tablespoons chopped onion
      • Juice of 1/2 lime

      Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and process at high speed till it is completely smooth . Add additional water a little at a time if too thick. Should be like very heavy cream. Pour into a bowl and refrigerate till ready to serve.

      South of the Border Shredded Chicken

      • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
      • 1 cup red salsa (I use Mild Pace Picante, but your favorite is fine)
      • 1 teaspoon mince garlic
      • 1/4 cup diced onion
      • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
      • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
      • 1 teaspoon salt

      Combine all ingredients in a pot and bring to boil over medium heat. Reduce to simmer and cook about 25- 30 minutes or until chicken is tender and cooked through. (This can also be done in a slow cooker, cooking on low till tenderprobably 2 plus hours, depending on your cooker.) When done, remove chicken and shred it, using 2 forks to pull it apart. Return the pan with the sauce in it to the stove and gently boil for 5-7 minutes to reduce it slightly. Put shredded chicken back in the sauce and mix well. Put it in a dish and refrigerate till ready to make pupusas. Bring to room temperature or heat a little before putting them together.

      Black Bean and Corn Salsa or Pupusa Filling

      • 3/4 cup black beans
      • 3/4 cup cooked corn, (canned, fresh or frozen)
      • 1/4 cup chopped onion
      • 1/4 cup sweet red pepper, chopped
      • Juice of 1/2 lime
      • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
      • 1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
      • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
      • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
      • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
      • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
      • 1/2 -1 teaspoon seeded, finely minced serrano chili (depending on desired heat)
      • 2 Tablespoons chopped, fresh cilantro

      Combine all ingredients and chill several hours or longer to blend flavors.