Pupusas are those flat Salvadoran cornmeal patties filled with various ingredients (most often meat or cheese). After experimenting—mostly unsuccessfully—to come up with the proper techniques, we invited our Salvadoran friend, Marlene Gomez, to spend an afternoon in our kitchen, teaching us the subtleties of pupusa-making. Our mistake had been to stuff the pupusas as if they were pockets. But the dough needs to be carefully worked around the filling in one piece. Using a bit of rendered pork fat to keep the dough supple, Marlene turned out one beautiful pupusa after another. Soon, we were having a pupusa party.
1. FILL DOUGH : Oil heel of your hand with fat. Rotate dough, pressing with your fingers to form a 4" concave disk, 1/2" thick. Cupping dough in your hand, press filling into center of disk.
2. CLOSE EDGES : Gradually shape dough up and around the filling, rotating it in your hand as you work. When edges meet, pinch them together and smooth the seal, constantly turning dough.
3. SHAPE DISK : Hold filled dough in one hand and pat with the other, turning and evening edges as you work. Finished pupusa should be 4 1/2" in diameter. Re-oil hands periodically to keep dough supple.
4. FRY PUPUSA : Rub both sides of pupusa with fat and fry until well browned, about 3 minutes each side. Cook pupusas immediately, since dough dries quickly.