Pupusas and Spicy Slaw

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I am joining the blogging event Adopt A Gluten-Free Blogger at The Book of Yum again. Last month, I chose two recipes posted by Diane at The Whole Gang to try: Pupusas and Spicy Slaw. If you aren’t familiar with Diane’s blog, you should definitely check it out. She has a wonderful website full of delicious recipes that are gluten-free, dairy-free, and often vegetarian and vegan, too. Every week, she posts Friday Foodie Fix, a roundup of recipes of her own and other bloggers who contribute recipes including a specific ingredient. It’s a great way to find a new recipe to try. This year, Diane is also starting a newsletter which is sure to be full of wonderful information to help guide us through a healthy, gluten-free lifestyle. Currently, you can find the sign-up to receive the newsletter by email, on her homepage.

So, what are pupusas? If you read the menu plans that I post weekly, you may have noticed that I occasionally include pupusas for dinner. I first discovered pupusas several years ago while living in the Bay Area in California. They are a flat bread or thick tortilla made from a dough of Masa or a pre-cooked corn meal often used in Latin American cooking. Pupusas orignated in San Salvador, but have gained popularity in the United States. I have purchased pupusas pre-made in grocery stores, but they are not easy to find. I usually purchase the ones that are filled with refried beans and cheese. However, I’ve been wanting to try making them with pork. When Diane, at The Whole Gang, posted her recipe for Pork-filled Pupusas, I knew I had to give them a try. When you order these at a restaurant, they always serve them with a pickled cabbage relish. I had not attempted making the relish or the slaw before because I am not a big fan of cabbage. My husband, however, loves the cabbage dish usually served with pupusas, so I decided to give Diane’s recipe for Spicy Slaw a try, too.

I started working on the meal by making the Spicy Slaw first. I figured it would be good to let the vegetables marinate in the refrigerator while I worked on the pupusas. This was a fabulous recipe, and so easy to make. I love that Diane’s directions for making this was so simple: “Chop and drop, then mix together.  It really is that easy. Just taste it and adjust to fit your taste buds.” With the exception of the toasted onion powder, which I didn’t have, I followed the recipe as written. No adjustments were needed. Because I only used one mild jalapeño, it wasn’t very spicy. Honestly, it really didn’t need the heat. It was full of fresh, strong, wonderful flavors. It complimented the pupusas perfectly, but would also be great to eat anytime by itself. I will be buying and eating more cabbage in the future. 🙂

Next, I worked on the Pork Filling for the pupusas. I wanted to make it before I made up the pupusa dough, so the pork would have time to cool down. I made the pork filling as written in Diane’s recipe. Pupusas are not usually very spicy, and this was no exception. But again, Diane created a recipe that was full of good flavors. I love the addition of the smoked paprika and the Ancho chili powder in the recipe. It worked very well in the pupusas.

Making the pupusas. So here’s where my pupusas may have differed from Diane’s. I didn’t use Maseca Masa for the flour to make the pupusa. I used P.A.N. pre-cooked white corn meal/flour (aka harina PAN). I didn’t have any Maseca, but the P.A.N. package I did have said you could make pupusas with it, so…. I followed the directions on the package: “Pour 2 1/2 cups of lukewarm water in a bowl, add 1 teaspoon salt and slowly add 2 cups of PAN, knead until smooth and form.” It worked out very well, and to tell you the truth, I don’t know how it differs from masa. It was very easy to work with, though as Diane says in her post, it’s best to keep your hands wet so the dough doesn’t get sticky. Stay close to the sink or keep a bowl of water close by. I took a ball of dough and then made an indention in the middle and started to make a cup-shaped round to put the pork in. Then, I folded in the sides to cover the pork, and flattened with my hands making a pancake shape. Then, I put them in a lightly oiled pan on the stove where they cooked over medium heat. Fortunately, my husband was helping with the cooking. So, while I made the pupusas, he tended to the actual cooking in the pan. As Diane suggested in her post, we put the cooked pupusas in the oven to keep them warm while the others cooked.

Eating the pupusas. These were really good eats. Very similar to what we were used to buying in California. They were good as-is, but we did add some queso blanco (Columbian white cheese) to some of them, too. It made a wonderful meal. It’s always nice to have something different to eat in your meal plans to keep it exciting. We made 10 pupusas with the recipe, and 2 or 3 was enough to fill up one person. The kids tried them and thought they were OK, but wouldn’t eat a whole pupusa. (I think we’ll eventually get them to love these as much as we do.)

Leftovers. These also make really good leftovers and are quick to heat up. I had a lot of pork leftover, as well as some slaw. Instead of making more pupusas, I decided to wrap it up in rice papers. (For tips on using rice papers as wraps, check out my posts on sandwich bread alternatives or gluten-free egg rolls.) It made a really nice lunch. We will definitely make these again.

Our thanks to Diane, for sharing her recipes for these and other delicious foods. And, thanks to Sea at The Book of Yum for encouraging us to try recipes from other bloggers!



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Heather Great Job on the pupusas. Yours look better than mine! Thank you for adopting me and the kind words. I’m so glad this worked well for you. Love the idea of wraps!


Pupusas sound delicious! Thanks for the idea. I might have to try these!


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I used to work at a heavily mexican populated little town at the local hospital. They used to eat these wrapped in foil, it was in fact their version of fast food. They always looked and smelled so good. I have truly never seen them or a recipe since I moved from there. I would love to try them and I even have some pork roast in the freezer to use.


Lisa – The first time I made pupusas, I was a little slow — trying to figure out the right texture of the dough, the right amount of meat, etc. But once you get a feel for it, it does become fast food! It’s a great way to use up leftover meat and beans, too. Don’t know why it’s been so long since I’ve made them.


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