This recipe reflects how versatile the pupusa is; you’re free to make it your own. This particular version requires pork shoulder (or pernil), and you can season it with anything, really—my family usually goes for a blend of sazon, salt, pepper, and adobo. Making pupusas requires practice, and you may not get that perfect circle shape on your first try—I certainly didn’t. Fair warning: you should probably make a little more than the recipe yields . . . I know my dad and I always end up eating way more.
- Cook the pork: Slice the pork into 1-inch cubes and season with salt and pepper. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat, and brown on all sides until golden brown, about 5 minutes.
- Once cooled, blend pork into a paste-like consistency using a blender or food processor.
- In a medium bowl, combine the blended pork with the cheese and refried beans. Mix until thoroughly combined.
- To make the dough, add the masa de maíz and salt to taste to a large bowl. Slowly add 3 cups of hot (but not boiling) water, and mix with a wooden spoon (or your hands) until thoroughly incorporated.
- Divide dough into 6 to 8 equal pieces, depending on how large you want your pupusas to be. Begin to flatten each dough ball with the palm of your hand until it’s about 4 inches wide. Add 1 heaping tablespoon of filling to the center of each flattened dough ball.
- Wrap the dough around the filling by sealing the edges like a dumpling, then form it into a ball again by tucking the edges and compressing the dough. Using the palms of your hands, flatten into a half-inch-thick disc, about 4 inches wide.
- Heat a skillet or comal over medium-high heat and add 2 tablespoons neutral oil. Cook the pupusas 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until golden brown and crispy. Top with curtido (fermented cabbage slaw) and any salsa of your choice. Enjoy!
Leo Ramirez is an 18 year old high school student who lives in New York City. He resides in the Bushwick neighborhood, where food insecurity and gentrification are pressing issues. In his free time, Leo helps facilitate climate and food justice seminars in addition to participating in mutual aid and community initiatives. He’s also the managing editor of a first-of-its-kind student led magazine, Pass the Spatula, that has garnered attention from chefs, publications, and pioneers in the field. Currently, Ramirez is starring in a documentary that highlights his day to day life and crucial work. He hopes to one day become a food writer and journalist and give back to the neighborhood that has given him so much.