I make these every year and freeze them for a quick snack or lunch on days I don’t have time for much else. Essentially a stuffed tortilla, they come in many variations- I made two. The first is spicy braised venison and cheese, the second, loroco flower & cheese. Served alongside a spicy fermented slaw called curtido, they are a versatile and crowd-pleasing dish.
Although pupusas are a little labor-intensive up front, they freeze beautifully and are an excellent way to stretch a little bit of meat a long way. This post is really more of a technique than a recipe, like all my favorite dishes are, so feel free to improvise with what you have on hand.
I started with leftover braised venison shoulder, spiced with chipotle peppers, onion, garlic, oregano, and bay leaf. Leftover is key here- you will be up to your ears in pupusas if you braise a shoulder specifically for this purpose. Make barbacoa for dinner, then make pupusas. Trust me on this.
Loroco is the edible flower bud of a vine native to Mexico and Central America, and is a traditional ingredient in pupusas. Quickly blanched and then chopped, they have a pleasing texture and a flavor that is a little reminiscent of asparagus or spinach. Working with loroco buds got me thinking about all the native plants that will be blooming soon- I’m excited to try this recipe with foraged buds in the next few months!
Venison & Loroco Pupusas
Prep time: 45 minutes active, 3 hours total
Spicy Braised Venison
Venison shoulder or stew meat, cut into 1.5 inch cubes
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic
½ can chopped chipotle peppers
1 quart venison stock (more or less, depending on the size of the venison roast)
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp oregano
1 tbsp hungarian sweet paprika
1 tsp cumin
Salt, to taste
Chili powder, to taste
Salt the venison and let it rest for about ten minutes. In a large pan over medium-high heat, heat a few tablespoons of oil until almost smoking. Brown the venison on all sides, until the edges are a deep chocolate brown. Remove the venison from the pan and turn the heat to medium. Add the onion and saute until translucent, scraping the pan with your spatula to bring up the fond. Add garlic, allow to saute for two minutes, and then add chipotle peppers & bay leaves. Add stock until the meat is just covered, then season liberally with oregano, paprika, cumin, chili powder and salt. Cook, covered, on low heat for 4-6 hours, or until the venison is fork tender. Adjust seasoning if necessary before serving. If using for pupusa filling immediately, shred and allow to cool to room temperature.
Grated cheese- your choice
Loroco buds, blanched & chopped
3 cups masa
3 cups warm water
-This recipe is scalable- simply equal parts masa and water. Make as little or as much as you think you’ll need-
Mix masa and water until a not-too-sticky dough forms. It should be a little wetter than play-doh, but not wet enough to lose its shape or stick overly to your hands. Form a piece of the dough into a 1 ½ inch ball, then flatten it between your palms into a disc, about ¼” thick. Cup the dough in the palm of your hand so it forms a little bowl, and place filling inside. I usually use approximately a rounded teaspoon of filling per pupusa. Pinch the edges of the dough upward and around the filling, again making a ball with the dough. Flatten the dough out again into a disc, this time approximately ½” thick. Place each formed pupusa on waxed paper, and do not allow them to touch. Freeze them individually, and once frozen, you can bag them up, 3-4 to a package for a quick frozen snack.
Heat a tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Place thawed pupusas in pan and cook, 4 minutes per side, until golden brown and toasty. Remove from pan; serve with curtido, hot sauce, and sour cream.