America’s Test Kitchen: Pupusas with Curtido (Ep 2225)

Pupuses with Curtido


For an accurate measurement of boiling water, boil a kettle full of water, then measure the desired amount. A properly hydrated masa paste should be sticky, which requires damp hands to keep it from sticking to your palms. If the dough seems a little dry at any time, knead in hot tap water, 1 teaspoon at a time, until the dough is sticky. An occasional leak when frying the pupusas is to be expected, and the browned cheese is delicious. Feta cheese can replace cotija; if you can find quesillo, use 10 oz in place of cotija and Monterey Jack.


2 cups (8 ounces) masa harina

½ teaspoon of table salt

2 cups boiling water, plus hot tap water if needed

2 teaspoons vegetable oil, divided

2 ounces cotija cheese, cut into 2 pieces

8 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, cut into 8 pieces

1 Curtido recipe (recipe follows)

Salsa to serve


1 cup cider vinegar

½ cup of water

1 tablespoon of sugar

1 ½ teaspoons of table salt

½ head green cabbage, seeded and thinly sliced ​​(6 cups)

1 onion, thinly sliced

1 large carrot, peeled and grated

1 jalapeño pepper, stemmed, seeded and chopped

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1. FOR PUPUAS: Using a marker, draw a 4-inch circle in the center of one side of a 1-liter or 1-gallon zipper bag. Trim the open seams along both sides of the bag, but leave the bottom seam intact so the bag opens completely.

2. Combine masa harina and salt in a medium bowl. Add boiling water and 1 teaspoon of oil and mix with a rubber spatula until a soft dough forms. Cover the dough and let it rest for 20 minutes.

3. While the dough rests, line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Process the cotija in a food processor until the cotija is finely chopped and looks like wet sand, about 20 seconds. Add the Monterey Jack and mix until the mixture resembles moist oatmeal, about 30 seconds (it will not form a cohesive mass). Remove the processor blade. Shape the cheese mixture into 8 balls, weighing about 1 ¼ ounces each, and place the balls on 1 half of the prepared sheet.

4. Knead the dough in a bowl for 15-20 seconds. Test the hydration of the dough by flattening a piece the size of a golf ball. If cracks larger than ¼ inch form around the edges, add hot tap water, 2 teaspoons at a time, until the dough is soft and slightly sticky. Transfer the dough to the counter, shape into a large ball and divide into 8 equal pieces. Using your damp hands, roll 1 piece of dough into a ball and place it on the empty half of the prepared sheet. Cover with a damp towel. Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough.

5. Place the open bag marked side down on the counter. Place 1 ball of dough in the center of the circle. Fold the other side of the bag over the ball. Using a glass pie plate or 8-inch square baking dish, gently press dough to 4-inch diameter, using the circle drawn on the bag as a guide. Flip the disk over in your palm and place 1 ball of cheese in the center. Bring the sides of the dough around the filling and pinch the top to seal. Re-wet your hands and roll the ball until smooth, smoothing out any cracks with the tip of your damp finger. Return ball to bag and slowly squeeze to 4 inches in diameter. Pinch the small cracks that form on the edges. Put the pupusa back on the sheet and cover with a damp cloth. Repeat with remaining batter and filling.

6. Heat the remaining teaspoon of oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Wipe out the skillet with paper towels. Carefully place 4 pupusas in the pan and cook until brown on both sides, 2 to 4 minutes on each side. Transfer to a dish and repeat with the remaining 4 pupusas. Serve hot with salsa and curtido.

TO ADVANCE : At the end of step 5, wrap the baking sheet in plastic wrap and freeze until the pupusas are solid. Wrap the pupusas individually in plastic, then transfer the pupusas to a zip-lock bag. Freeze for up to 1 month. Cook straight from frozen, increasing cooking time by 1 minute per side.

seven. FOR THE CURTIDO: Whisk vinegar, water, sugar and salt in a large bowl until sugar is dissolved. Add the cabbage, onion, carrot, jalapeño, and oregano and toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours. Toss coleslaw, then drain. Return the coleslaw to the bowl and stir in the cilantro.

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Photo Credit: America’s Test Kitchen

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