Recipe relations: pupusas and corn cakes with shredded chicken


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Per my post about smart shopping, here are two great recipes that are very closely related, yet pleasantly unique.

We’ll start with the pupusas, but first a background story. It’s quick, I promise.

When I worked at the ad agency, we had several clients in the food industry, and one particular client that did amazing work in flavor and ingredient manufacturing.

I was a PR account manager and copywriter on this account, which required me to subscribe to and read loads of fabulous food trade publications. Picture Bon Appetite for restauranteurs and food product formulators.

One particular article I discreetly ripped from our agency’s copy of Flavor & The Menu has been gathering dust in my cookbook for a little more than a year.

The article was on pupusas and arepas, traditional Salvadoran and Venezuelan dishes, respectively, and since there were no recipes featured, other than instructions for the simple dough preparation, I experimented a little and came up with this:

Shredded chicken and cheese pupusas

You’ll need:

2 cups masa flour

2 cups water

shredded mexican cheese (the traditional Salvadoran cheese is Quesillo, I used a blend of Asadero, Gallego, Manchego and Anejo Enchilado)

chicken filling (this is optional, recipe at the very end of this post)

This could not be any simpler: Mix the masa with water until you have formed a soft and moist dough.

Form dough balls in between the size of a golf and tennis ball (hmmm…the size of a racquet ball, perhaps??).


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The balls should not crack on the edges when you flatten them—if they do, add more water.

Using your finger, shape the balls into mini bowls and fill them with the topping of your choice. The chicken filling is delicious, but since I also used it in the corn cake recipe, I made the majority of my pupusas with only cheese.

Traditionally, this is how it’s done, and sometimes with Chincharron, beans, or all three. Next time I’m trying this with refried black beans. I’ll let you know how it turns out.


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See, they’re cracking—not good. Still delicious, but not as easy to work with.

Now comes the tricky part. Seal the top of the ball by working the edges of the dough over the hole. A little water will seal the deal.

Don’t fret—my first few balls were disastrous. Keep practicing.

Now lightly press down on the balls, forming 1- to 1/2-inch thick patties—try not to let the filling ooze out. Again, practice makes perfect.

Heat up a pan with some vegetable oil and fry them up (medium-high heat, about 2-3 minutes on each side).


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The recipe for the traditional Salvadoran topping can be found here. I did a dollop of daisy. Sour cream, that is.


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Here’s what the gooey insides look like (this one had the chicken in it):


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Yum. Now onto this recipe’s cousin: Corn cakes with shredded chicken and salsa. These were inspired by the magnificent Rick Bayless (who happens to be kicking ass on Top Chef Masters. Go Rick!) and his AMAZING Frontera Grill, and the Tamale Griddle Cakes from Prudence Pennywise.

Corn cakes with shredded chicken and salsa

You’ll need:

1 cup masa

1/2 cup fresh sweet corn kernels (canned will work in a pinch)

1 cup water

2 tablespoons sour cream

1/8 cup shredded mexican cheese

1 tablespoon cumin

1/8 teaspoon ancho chile powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

The batter should be the consistency of pancake batter. Dave told me not to post this picture because he thinks it’s completely unappetizing. I have to agree, but I’m doing it to give you a visual reference. Plus, I promise the end result is mouthwatering. Sorry Dave.


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Cook the batter just as you would pancakes. Just a tip—these take a little longer, so set the heat at around medium and let them cook about three minutes on each side.

In the meantime, reheat your shredded chicken if it isn’t hot off the stovetop.

When the cakes are done, top them with shredded chicken, salsa (this one would be awesome) and a little shredded cheese.


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Now for the family reunion:


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Unfortunately, they didn’t have much time to catch up:


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Shredded mexican-style chicken


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You’ll need:

2 chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces (you can also buy them like this—fajita style—but it costs more)

¼ cup olive oil

1 can black beans

½ Mexican beer (Corona, Tecate, Dos Equis)

1 green pepper, coarsely chopped

1 jalapeno, minced

½ onion, coarsely chopped

5 cloves garlic, minced

1 can crushed tomatoes

3 tbsp cumin

2 tbsp crushed red pepper

1 1/2 tbsp salt

1 tbsp pepper

Cook the green peppers and onions with the chicken and the olive oil for about 5 minutes over medium heat, until the vegetable begin to cook a little and the chicken browns.

Dump in all of the other ingredients. I did this is a large pot, but it would be even simpler in a crock pot. Set it and forget it.

Simmer over medium to medium-low heat for one to two hours, or until most of the liquid cooks down and the chicken begins to get tender and shred. I help my chicken along by mashing it with a fork when I stir the pot.

¡Que fácil y delicioso!

9 comments

  • hello…I was introduced to pupusas about nine years ago and fell in LOVE with them…thanks for posting this recipe…am adding it to my list of “must try” recipes!

  • Yeah, they are great–a tip–try and cram as much filling as you can in without it breaking through the dough–my first batch was a little dough heavy, not enough filling. Thanks for the comment!

  • I’ve never heard of pupusas but since I love arepas, I think I’ll love this recipe. Can’t wait to try them out! You’re photos are lovely!

  • This is a first for me. This morning I saw your picture on an aggregator and clicked through – bookmarked this page in my never-ending “Recipes to try” folder.

    And believe it or not I made them for dinner tonight. I attempted to convince my 2 year old that they were corn pancakes with beans and cheese – but he wouldn’t go for them.

    But I am a big fan, having never had these I have no idea what they are supposed to taste like – but the technique has mucho promise. I cracked open a can of beans that I had, drained and mashed some of them and then mixed them with cheese, cumin, garlic S&P.

    Next time I need to use a more aggressive bean, cheese and seasoning mix – and I didn’t keep the pan with enough fat in it. You live and learn.

    Thank you very much for introducing me to something I would have never tried.

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