Bean and Cheese Pupusa Recipe

These Central American corn cakes are stuffed with homemade refried beans and cheese, then griddled and served hot with a smoky salsa and crunchy pickled veggies.
PUPUSAS-RECIPE1
Photo by Farideh Sadeghin 

Makes: 18
Prep time: 1 ½ hours
Total time: 4 hours

INGREDIENTS

for the curtido: 
½ head green cabbage, shredded (about 1 pound|450 grams)
2 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced into strips
2 serrano chilies, thinly sliced  
1 garlic clove, minced 
½ white onion, thinly sliced 
2 teaspoons Mexican oregano 
5 cups|1180 ml pineapple, apple cider, or white vinegar, to cover 

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for the refried kidney beans:
2 cups|360 grams dried kidney beans, soaked overnight and drained
10 tablespoons|145 grams unsalted butter
½ white onion, finely chopped
1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

for the filling: 
1 ounces|30 grams chicharrón, finely chopped 
½ red bell pepper, chopped
½ medium yellow onion, chopped 
1 ripe tomato, chopped
1 cup|150 grams quesillo (Salvadoran cheese), cubed into ½-inch pieces
vegetable oil or rendered pork fat, for forming and cooking

for the salsa roja: 
4 ripe tomatoes (about 1 ½ pounds|675 grams) 
2 tablespoons olive oil 
½ green bell pepper
1 jalapeño
1 poblano
1 serrano chile
1 garlic clove, peeled 
½ medium white onion, peeled  
1 cup|125 ml chicken broth 
¼ cup|5 grams cilantro leaves, chopped
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste  

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for the pupusa dough: 
8 cups|765 grams yellow masa harina, preferably Maseca 
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
¼ cup|60 ml vegetable oil, plus more 

DIRECTIONS

  1. Make the curtido: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the cabbage and blanch for 1 minute, then drain, squeezing out as much moisture as possible. Place the cabbage, carrot, chilies, garlic, onion, and oregano in a large bowl and toss to combine. Place the mixture in a large mason jar, then pour the vinegar over to cover. Cover with a lid and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight, before serving. 
  2. Make the refried beans: In a medium saucepan, cover the beans with water. Bring to a boil over high, then reduce the heat to maintain a simmer. Cook until soft, about 1 ½  hours, then drain. 
  3. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-low. Add the onion and cumin and cook until soft, about 4 minutes, then add the beans and ½ cup|125 ml of its cooking liquid and cook, using a potato masher to mash the beans until creamy. Season with salt and pepper, then transfer to a blender and purée until smooth. 
  4. Make the filling: Place the chicharrón, pepper, onion, and tomato in a food processor and purée until smooth. Place the mixture in a large bowl with the refried beans and cheese and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Make the salsa roja: Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil. Add the tomatoes and cook for 1 minute, then transfer to a bowl of ice water until cool enough to handle, then peel. Roughly chop, then transfer to the bowl of a food processor. 
  6. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add the peppers, onion, and garlic and cook, turning, until charred all over, about 7 minutes. The garlic will take less time, probably around 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the stems from the chilies and roughly chop, then transfer the charred vegetables to the food processor along with the tomatoes and chicken stock. Purée until almost smooth, then transfer to a large skillet and cook over medium-high until slightly thick, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and stir in the cilantro. Cool completely. 
  7. Make the dough: Combine the masa harina, salt, and 6 cups|1420 ml warm water in a large mixing bowl and knead the masa harina until the water is fully incorporated. Make sure the dough is moist but not sticky. (If the dough feels hard add more water, and if the masa is too sticky add more harina.) Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the masa rest for 15 minutes. 
  8. Oil your hands and form 18 (4-ounce|115-gram) balls of masa. Working with one ball of dough at a time and keeping the rest covered, flatten the dough into a 4-inch circle. Add 2 tablespoons of filling to the middle and wrap the masa around, enclosing it and rolling it together to make a smooth ball. Flatten the ball until about ¼-inch thick, taking care to not let any of the filling leak out. 
  9. Heat a comal, large cast-iron skillet, or heavy skillet over medium-high. Brush lightly with oil, then, working in batches, place the pupusas on the comal, turning and pressing as necessary until crispy brown markings appear, about 6 minutes (filling might bubble out, and that’s ok!). Remove from the heat and serve immediately with the curtido and salsa. 

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