Have you ever tried pupusas? If not, you have been missing out. Pupusas are the national dish of El Salvador. They are cornmeal cakes that can be stuffed with whatever you would like. In this recipe, we will be stuffing them with a beef, onion, jalapeno, and cheese mixture that’s been seasoned with our Open Fire Mex’ing It Up Rub. Let me tell you, these are a real treat!
Make the filling
Before we get started, I would like to mention a disclaimer. This is not a traditional pupusas recipe – this is my version. With that out of the way, let’s cook our filling mixture. In a large pan over medium heat, cook the following:
- Ground beef
Season everything with our Open Fire Mex’ing It Up Rub and allow the beef to brown. Then add one beer of your choice (ex: Modelo, Corona, Miller Lite), bring to a boil and then allow to simmer on low until the liquid has evaporated away. This can be a little time consuming, so if you’re short on time, just strain the liquid out after it has cooked for a bit. But please know that the flavor will be more concentrated if you have the time for it to fully evaporate.
Make the pupusas dough
You will need the following ingredients for the pupusas dough:
- Masa harina – just like we used for our Corn Tortillas recipe
After mixing the dry ingredients together, slowly add in the water and mix. We are looking for a dough consistency that is similar to play dough – not too wet and not too dry. Once you have the right consistency, mix in the butter. Make 15-20 medium to large sized balls with the dough and cover with a paper towel so that they do not dry out.
Stuff the pupusas
Using the palms of your hands, flatten the balls (one at a time) so that they’re about 4 inches in diameter. Add a decent amount of the filling mixture and sprinkle some Mexican cheese on top of it.
The next step might require a bit of a learning curve (aka the first one you make might not come out great but you’ll get better as you go). I found that the best way to do this is to fold in the dough over the beef mixture, making sure to completely enclose the beef. I pretty much made a ball with it and then flattened it out so that the pupusa is stuffed with the beef mixture. Repeat with the remaining pupusa balls.
Cook them up
Heat a cast iron, griddle, or large pan over medium heat. Working in batches, add 3-4 pupusas (or whatever fits without overcrowding the pan) and cook for about 3-5 minutes per side. You are looking for them to be slightly golden on the outside. Repeat with the remaining pupusas and serve immediately.
Worth every bit of effort
It might seem like there are a lot of steps to make pupusas but it’s really not that bad. It’s also definitely worth every step. I like to serve these with salsa, hot sauce, or even any leftover beef mixture that you might have. These are delicious and fun to eat. Bonus: they freeze really well too. If you have any leftovers, feel free to pop them in a ziplock bag and freeze for another time. Try these out and share a picture on social media. I’d love to see how they come out and what you think.
Mex’ing It Up Pupusas
- 1 lb Ground beef
- 1/2 Onion minced
- 3 Jalapenos minced; omit if you don't like spicy
- Open Fire Mex'ing It Up Rub to taste
- 1 12 oz Beer Ex: Modelo, Corona, Miller Lite
- Mexican cheese
- 4 cups Masa harina
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- 4 cups Warm water
- 2 tbsp Butter softened
- In a large pan over medium heat, add the onion, jalapeno, and ground beef. Season with Open Fire Mex'ing It Up Rub. Break up the beef and cook until it has browned.
- Add the beer and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower the heat to a simmer and cook until the liquid has evaporated. If you are short on time, strain the liquid after allowing it to cook for at least 15 minutes (the longer the better). I recommend at least allowing it to cook while making the pupusa dough.
- In a large bowl, mix the masa harina and salt. Slowly add in the warm water, mixing everything together to form the dough. Only use as much water as needed to get a dough that has play dough like consistency. If it's too wet, add more masa harina. If it's too dry, add more water.
- Once the correct dough consistency has been formed, mix in the softened butter. Form 15-20 medium to large sized balls. Lay them out on a cutting board or counter and cover with a paper towel to avoid drying out.
Form the Pupusas
- Using your hands, flatten one ball at a time so that it's about 4 inches in diameter. Add a decent amount of the beef mixture and Mexican cheese. Fold the sides of the dough in so that the beef is stuffed inside. Form the pupusa into a flattened, moonlike shape, making sure the beef mixture remains enclosed by the dough. Repeat with the remaining dough balls.
Cook the Pupusas
- Heat a cast iron, griddle, or large pan over medium heat. Add as many pupusas as possible without crowding and cook until golden brown, about 3-5 minutes per side. Repeat with the remaining pupusas. Serve immediately and enjoy!