I love making fresh tortillas and throwing a taco party, but sometimes I want to make something simpler (and still gluten-free) for dinner for Mr. Fox and myself. I recently discovered Pupusas, which are cheese filled tortillas. They are amazing – like a Mexican grilled cheese – and even easier to make than fresh tortillas.
Not that fresh tortillas are difficult to make, but they can be tricky to get into the pan when you first learn how to make them since they are so thin. The cheese filling makes Pupusas thicker and much easier to handle. This might actually make them better for people who want to learn how to make fresh tortillas (of course, I did this the opposite way…)
I almost find it difficult to give a recipe for Pupusas, since they are one of those lovely, simple, “flexible-rules” things to make. You basically need:
Some Corn Masa mix (I like Maseca)
Some cheese that you like (we love Queso Oaxaca for these, but Mozzarella or Cheddar will do as well…anything nice and gooey when it’s melted.)
Toppings (or none…these are good plain too)
Prepare the Masa as per the package instructions. Mine calls for 2 cups of masa, ¼ teaspoon salt and 1 ½ cups of water, but I often add a bit more water…the package even says to do this, if it feels dry. If you start to make the pupusas and the dough is crumbly, you can add more water at that time.
Let the masa dough sit, covered with a dish towel, for about 15-20 minutes while you grate the cheese and prepare any toppings you want. For us, this means opening and heating up some refried beans, finely slicing some cabbage and mixing up some sauce.
Once the dough has rested, take a ball of dough (about the size of a ping pong ball) and shape it into a bowl (it’s like playing with playdough again! …but edible.) Stuff that bowl with some cheese (2-3 teaspoons, however much fits, really.)
Now close the edges of the bowl at the top and smooth it out into a lovely-cheese-filled ball.
Place your new ball on a plate and cover with another dish towel so that it doesn’t dry out. Now do the same thing with the rest of the masa and cheese. I generally get 9 or 10 balls out of a batch of dough.
Heat a skillet on medium heat (I use a 10-inch stainless steel skillet, but you can also use cast iron.)
While the skillet is heating up, grab a ziplock bag and slice open the sides. Place one of your cheese-stuffed masa balls inside of the bag.
If you have a tortilla press, you can use that to flatten the ball, but you can just as easily place it on your counter and flatten with a plate, a pan, I’ve even used a small cutting board…anything with a flat bottom. You want the ball to be flattened evenly, about ¼ of an inch thick. No special equipment required!
Once the skillet is nice and hot, peel the plastic off the pupusa and slap it onto the skillet for about a minute. It will start to bubble where the cheese is. Using a spatula, flip the pupusa and cook the other side for about a minute as well. You want both sides to be speckled with golden bits. It it’s not golden and lovely, cook it a bit longer….like I said, this is really a non-recipe.
I stack each pupusas inside of another (clean) dish towel to let them steam a bit while I am making the rest of them.
I like them smeared with some refried beans, sprinkled with chopped cabbage and then drizzled with my “crema” – some light mayo, thinned out with lime juice and hot sauce – and then topped with some more hot sauce. Mr. Fox likes it when I fry the pupusas a second time in some oil so that they are crispy, then topped with some refried beans and maybe some hot sauce, if he is feeling spicy.