Smoky Poblano & Black Bean Pupusas

Stephen has been trying very very hard to avoid purchasing plastic in general but especially while grocery shopping. (We saw a guy put ONE apple in a plastic produce bag and tie it off!) This means a lot of things to be made from scratch… including tortillas & bread & powdered sugar. But especially tortillas. I don’t do well without, at the very least, one Mexican meal a week. If I had my way, I’d probably eat Latin American cuisine just about every single day. What is a world without salsa??? Not a world I want to live in. And black beans? Nope, I don’t want to live there either.

So we picked up a 5 pound bag of Maseca and Stephen put me to work. Okay, we worked together… ūüėČ I made the tortillas & he cooked them. Hint: the recipe is on the back of the bag. We don’t have a tortillas press so we used to pieces of parchment paper & one of the 8×8 pyrex pans to smush the living daylights out of a ball of a masa harina, water & salt. And it worked like a damn charm. And then I discovered the best news EVER. I could make more than just tortillas. I could make tamales, pupusas, sopes.

One of my pet names for Stephen is Pupusa… I don’t know how it came to be but it was one of the first things I called him. I thought it was only fitting I make him Pupusas for his birthday (okay, the day before). ¬†The recipe is really simple & they are incredibly delicious. I must warn you though – you must have the patience of a freaking saint to form them. Okay, they’re not that bad… unless you’re a¬†perfectionist.

Stephen was gracious enough to let me take these pictures of his food before I let him eat it.

Smoky Poblano & Black Bean Pupusas

Dough:

  • 2 Cups Masa Harina
  • 1 3/4 Cups Warm Water
  • 1/2 Tsp Salt
Combine the above ingredients in a large bowl. The dough should be very moist but not sticky – much moister than for tortillas. You want the dough to be moist enough that it doesn’t crack when you’re forming the pupusas.¬†If the dough dries out a bit as it sits, just add a couple more teaspoons of water. I actually made mine as the filling was cooking. Form into about 8 balls, somewhere between the size of a golf ball & tennis ball.

Filling:

  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 Med/Large Poblano Pepper, diced
  • 1 Jalapeno, finely diced
  • 1/2 Medium Onion, finely diced
  • 1 Clove Garlic, minced
  • 1 Can Black Beans, rinsed
  • 1 Tsp Chipotle Powder (this makes the filling smoky AND spicy, you can sub smoked paprika for smokiness without the heat)
  • 1/2 Tsp Cumin
  • 1 Tbsp Chili Powder
  • Juice of Half a Lime
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1/2 Cup Water

Heat olive oil over medium heat in a medium/large saute pan. Add poblano, jalapeno & onion. Saute until vegetables are tender and slightly browned. Add garlic and saute for another minute. Add black beans & salt & seasonings. Stir to combine. Add water and simmer gently over medium/low heat until much of the water has cooked down. Smash the black beans to a “refried bean” consistency. Squeeze lime juice into mix & stir to combine. You want the mixture to be thick for stuffing the pupusas.

To form: the pupusas, start with one of the masa balls. Form a small bowl by sinking your thumb in the middle & pinching the sides of the dough… much like when you were little and would make little clay bowls. The dough should be less than a centimeter thick. Fill the “bowl” with a couple of spoonfuls of filling. Fold together edges to close. Then flatten into a disk. The edges may crack a little, just muster all your patience to pinch the masa back together. If the filling comes out a bit, don’t worry! It happens. We had leftover filling that I served next to the pupusas. I wish I had some right now.

To cook: the pupusas, heat a splash of olive oil over medium heat in a large pan. Cook pupusas for about 4 minutes on each side or until golden brown on each side.

To serve: the pupusas, top with pico de gallo (as pictured), sour cream, guacamole, lime juice, hot sauce or any of your favorite accompaniments.

These babys were sooo good. They were a bit of a challenge to form but I think with practice I could one day become a professional pupusa maker. They’re certainly worth it. Hot out of the pan with some fresh pico de gallo, they’re a bit crunchy on the outside from the pan fry and gooey with a huge punch of flavor on the inside.

Two sites that I consulted with pictures on how to form the Pupusas:

Dandy Sugar

Better With Butter

Pico De Gallo Slaw

Just over a week ago I received very exciting news!!! The exclamation points let you know how exciting ūüôā

I received an acceptance letter from American University’s School of International Service. Starting in the fall I will be a graduate student working toward an M.A. in Global Environmental Policy!

I finally have some direction and that feels incredible. One of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite books sums it up, “But absolute freedom can be as paralyzing as confinement when you don’t know what you want” (Around the Bloc by¬†Stephanie Elizondo Griest). I finally know what I want!

Interestingly, American was the only school to which I applied (Penn State was the only school to which I applied for undergrad). Thank the universe I was accepted (to both).

I visited campus the day I was accepted (I didn’t get my acceptance email until that evening) and have already started looking at apartments, short-term study abroad opportunities, thinking about part-time jobs (Whole Foods?), and internships in the city. Each class is only once a week, and the average graduate student course load is 9 credits (3 classes) so I may only be on campus 2 days a week.

Anyway, onto the food! I eat tacos at least once a week, if not more. I love them. Usually they’re filled with black beans, some combination of veggies, and some kind of salsa, and/or guacamole. Last night, Stephen made some amazing tofu tacos and the tofu actually turned out perfect! Almost restaurant style!! Oh dear, they were so good I’m drooling just thinking about them.

And I learned a new trick after some internet searching… thank you, Vegan Yum Yum. The tofu should be DRY FRIED. It leeches out more moisture so the tofu becomes more spongy & chewy while simultaneously giving it a crisper outer texture. After dry frying the tofu, he added Olive Oil,¬†Jalape√Īo, Onion, and Bell Pepper & saut√©ed it all together with some Chili Powder, Cumin & Salt. I fried the tortillas a bit to make them warm & pliable. Then we added the slaw I had made around lunch & topped it off with some green leaf lettuce. Oh, and we never forget the Tapat√≠o. They were seriously delicious. I will probably never get around to posting a taco recipe because not only are tacos easy to make, I am FAR more interested in eating them IMMEDIATELY than I am in setting up a picture of my favorite food while it begs to be consumed. Maybe, one day.

Pico De Gallo Slaw

  • 1 Cup Green Cabbage, Shredded
  • 2 Medium Sized Tomatoes, Diced
  • 1/4 of a Large Onion, Diced
  • 1 Large Clove of Garlic, Minced
  • 1¬†Jalape√Īo, Minced
  • Juice of One Lime (or to taste)
  • 1/2 Tsp Cumin (or to taste)
  • Dash of Chipotle Powder, for smokiness
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1 Tsp Brown Sugar, Agave, or Honey
  • Cilantro (optional)

The addition of the cabbage actually came about because I didn’t have cilantro and diced tomato,¬†onion & garlic just wasn’t going to cut it. The Mexican restaurant in Kutztown, La Cocina Mexicana, always serves their salsa with shredded cabbage and it’s dynamite. Thus, this slaw was born. Both the¬†jalape√Īo¬†& chipotle add a bit of spice to adjust to your preference.

In a medium/large bowl combine cabbage, tomatoes, onion,¬†jalape√Īo¬†and garlic. Toss together. Squeeze in lime juice. Add cumin & chipotle. Toss & taste. You may decide not to add sweetener or salt. I liked a little of both. Definitely be careful with the sweetener though. I¬†accidentally added a touch too much the first time I made it.

If you have cilantro, absolutely add it. Let the slaw marinade in the refrigerator while you make the rest of your tacos. The flavor will enhance as it sits.

The slaw is fresh, bright, and adds a bit of crunch to your taco. It’s really wonderful and you could dress it up however you like.