Buffalo Rumblings regulars know the drill. But for the new Buffalo Bills fans circling the wagons with us, we’re about more than just football here. Need something exciting for this week’s game day chow line? Wingin’ It brings you a themed recipe for every regular-season and postseason Bills game. Like this one...
One of the best parts of this series for me is the research into demographics and heritage of different cities. Washington D.C. for instance has a lot of ties to El Salvador, which is where this recipe hails from. Perhaps no better time exists for us to feature this recipe than during National Hispanic Heritage Month.
The Bills seek to take down the Commanders this weekend in a game that expects to feature the weather. What better way to enjoy the potentially sweet taste of victory than with savory and spicy pupusas? The traditional recipe for pupusas (like this one that I took the dough recipe from) uses a filling made primarily with chicharron that I made more “Buffalo” with chicken and hot sauce. I tried to stick to tradition aside from that swap, but in the prep notes below you can find out why I had such a hard time.
Buffalo Chicken Pupusas
Active Time: 90 min
Total Time: 2 hours
2⁄3 lb cooked chicken
1⁄3 cup hot sauce
1⁄4 cup onion
1⁄4 cup bell pepper
About 8 green olives
1 tsp garlic powder
1 cup shredded cheese, halved (I used cheddar)
3 cups masa harina (see below)
1 1⁄2 cups warm water
1 tsp salt
1 tsp lime zest
You’ll need: Patience. Lots and lots of patience. Oh, and a large skillet can make your life easier too
- Make filling: Puree cooked chicken, hot sauce, onions, bell pepper, green olives and garlic powder together in a blender.
- Scrape puree into a mixing bowl and stir in a half cup of the cheddar cheese; set aside.
- Make dough: Combine masa harina, warm water, salt, and lime zest in a large bowl (see tips below if you care about your sanity). Cover and set dough aside for at least 15 min.
- Preheat a nonstick fry pan or griddle to medium heat with a splash of olive oil to help brown the dough.
- Make pupusas: Separate out a ball of dough into one hand, about the size of a large meatball (see tips below).
- Create a divot into the ball large enough to hold about a tablespoon of filling and close the dough ball around the filling.
- Flatten ball into a thin disc like a pancake; carefully place into the preheated pan/skillet and brown, flipping once and browning on the other side (about 5 min total). Repeat until you’ve used all dough balls.
- Serve: Garnish with a lime wedge and extra cheese as desired
Wingin’ It Tips and Prep Gallery
You will almost certainly run into the same issue that I did, and if you’re not up for a challenge then I suggest you pay very close attention to this section this week. Masa harina is not easy to find. I could not find it, in fact. I used a finely ground corn meal and a lot of elbow grease instead. Ready for a chemistry lesson? Too bad, you’re getting it anyway.
Masa harina at first glance looks like nothing more than corn flour. It’s not. Masa harina is soaked in a base solution (calcium hydroxide and water), which alters the properties of the ingredient. Alters how? Glad you asked. Corn flour is not like wheat flour most of us are used to in the kitchen. Wheat flour when mixed with water is very cohesive. Corn flour is more like sand. You can make a ball but it tends to crack and crumble when handled. So then...
If you couldn’t get your hands on masa harina, you need to deal with the fact your dough will... kinda suck to work with. To the gallery! The first picture is dough made only with corn flour. If it gets any more crumbly than that, add a little water. Yes, you can make pupusas with this. The one in the picture up top is strictly corn flour. Notice my edges are jagged, unlike my inspiration recipe. That’s because I’m an idiot and powered through without the right ingredient for the sake of flavor (which is honestly incredible).
The second picture is a cheat code. It’s a 50/50 mix with corn and wheat flour. Please note it’s still a pain in the *** to flatten (watch the video at the top of my inspiration recipe above for the right technique). But even at “pain in the ***” it’s still easier. You can also go 100% wheat flour but that will be a completely different flavor profile.
Picture three shows my filling after adding shredded cheese. It should be chicken wing dip consistency and can in fact be used as a chip dip. You’ll have extra filling. Grab some chips.
The next picture is the one I made with only corn flour with a half of one I made with my cheater dough. You can’t tell the difference by color very easily, but flavor wise the all corn one was better. The end result has notes of corn muffins and tortilla chips. All with a Buffalo Chicken filling.
I’ll cross my fingers you can get your hands on actual masa harina, thus making your life easier.
Editor’s note: Check out your local Target or Walmart. Perhaps even try ordering via Amazon. If your Tops or Wegmans has a large international foods selection, they should be able to help — but Tops tends to sell national brands in greater quantity, which is what you’re looking for with masa harina.