It’s a meaty time of year. Turkey, beef tenderloin and ham have taken table center stage at all of our holiday soirées, and a hearty beef pie has the spotlight on our December-January cover. To continue with this month’s meaty movement, we asked Ricky Cruz of Grotto Ristorante to teach us how to make those pockets of pork – pupusas – that we love so much. 


Photo by Becca Wright

We like to think of pupusas, the Salvadoran staple, as small corn pancakes filled with a meaty, cheesy mixture. While they can be filled with really anything you’d like, pupusas are traditionally stuffed with a blend of cheese, refried beans and pork. It’s a great grab-and-go breakfast or snack, but topped with the traditional curdito (cabbage slaw, recipe below), it also makes a well-rounded meal. Basically, pupusas are good whenever, wherever. Read through the recipe, watch the video below and then try cooking up a batch yourself. You may have just found a new holiday tradition.


Make this first to allow time to refrigerate

5 cups cabbage, shredded
2 cups carrots, grated
1 cup yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 cup white vinegar
2 cups water
2 Tbsp. dry oregano
1 Tbsp. salt
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. red pepper flakes

METHOD: Combine the cabbage and carrot in a large bowl. Pour in boiling water to cover and let sit for 45 seconds. Then quickly drain off the hot water and add ice-cold water to cover  the cabbage and carrot. (This halts the blanching process.) Now drain the cabbage and carrots and set aside. In a separate bowl, combine the remaining ingredients and then pour over the cabbage mixture and stir. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.


2 1/2 cups Maseca
2 1/2 cups warm water
pinch of salt

METHOD: Combine the Maseca, salt and water in a mixing bowl. Knead to form a smooth, moist dough. If the mixture is too dry, add more water one tablespoon at a time. If the mixture is too sticky, add more Maseca a tablespoon at a time. Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes (optional).


1 1/2 lbs. shredded mozzarella cheese
1 1/2 lbs. sautéed, ground pork meat* (also called chicharrón, but not to be confused with fried pork rind, which is also known as chicharrón in some countries)

*To make the chicharrón from scratch, sauté pork legs in oil with salt, pepper and a red and green pepper. Grind in a food processor until a paste consistency. 

METHOD: In a mixing bowl combine mozzarella and ground pork leg. Mix together until fully incorporated and soft.


With lightly oiled hands, form the dough into roughly 16 balls, about 2 1/2 oz. each. Let rest for a few minutes. Using your hands flatten each ball into a shallow cup and fill it with 1 1/2 oz. of pupusa filling. Wrap the dough around the filling and pinch the end to seal it. Making sure the filling does not leak, pat the dough back and forth between your hands to form a round disk about 1/4 inch thick. Repeat with the remaining balls.

Heat a lightly oiled flat top or skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the pupusas for 2 to 3 minutes on each side until golden brown. Serve with the curtido on the side.