We love to entertain, and October is one of our favorite months to plan a get-together. Whether we are having kids over before high school football games or hosting our neighbors during Halloween, we find ourselves throwing casual dinner parties throughout the fall.
It can get pricey to throw so many gatherings, so we came up with a delicious fall menu that can easily be made with ingredients you’re likely to already have on hand. This menu is inspired by El Salvadoran cuisine and is full of spicy flavors that complement the flavors of the fall season, plus a sweet dessert you can find on our website.
• Pupusas with Cumin-roasted Butternut Squash and Pulled Chicken
• ONLINE: Peanut Butter S’mores Squares
PUPUSAS WITH CUMIN-ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND PULLED CHICKEN
Pupusas are corn cakes similar to tortillas that are filled with a savory filling and cooked on a griddle. The pupusas can be filled with anything, though traditionally they contain cheese, pulled pork, chicken or black beans. We got creative with our fillings, using leftover roasted chicken and pico de gallo for some. For others, we made a meatless version using butternut acorn squash and spices. The pupusas are made from masa harina, which is a corn flour, plus a little salt and warm water. We added in baking powder to help lighten the dough up a bit. To stay with tradition we served both versions of our pupusas with curtido, which adds a little crunch and brightness to the dish.
Servings: Yields 24 (3-4-inch) pupusas
Cumin-roasted butternut squash filling: 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
4 cups butternut squash, cubed
1 cup onion, cut into chunks
6 cloves garlic, each split in half
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon chili powder
¼ teaspoon cayenne
½ cup queso fresco
1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Rub a baking sheet with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil.
2. In a large mixing bowl, toss the butternut squash, onions and garlic with the spices and remaining olive oil.
3. Spread everything onto the prepared baking sheet and roast in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until tender and golden.
4. Remove the squash from the oven and allow it to cool completely.
Pulled chicken filling: 2 cups cooked or roasted chicken
½ cup homemade or store-bought pico de gallo
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1. Shred the roasted chicken into a bowl. Add the pico de gallo. Mix well to combine.
2. Set up an assembly line to fill the pupusas.
For the pupusas: 4 cups masa harina
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
4 cups warm water (plus 3 tablespoons if needed)
1. In a mixing bowl, combine the masa harina, salt and baking powder.
2. Slowly add in the warm water and stir until a stiff ball forms. Press a little of the dough between your fingers to make sure it is not too dry. If it is still a little crumbly, add in a couple more tablespoons of water. The dough should feel a bit like play dough when it is ready. Place a damp cloth over the dough and allow it to rest about 10 minutes.
3. Rub a little vegetable oil on your hands and roll the dough into 24 balls, (between ping pong ball and golf ball size). Keep a damp cloth over the dough balls as you work to keep them from drying out, and keep them covered as you set up an assembly line to fill them.
To assemble the pupusas: 1. Place one of the dough balls into the palm of your hand and make an indention in the center forming a small cup.
2. Place a spoonful of one of the fillings in the center of the cup and top it with a little cheese (queso fresco for the butternut squash filling, sharp cheddar for the pulled chicken filling).
3. Fold the sides of the cup over the filling to cover it up. Gently press the dough out between the palms of your hands to make a disk. Make sure that the filling is completely covered and the pupusa is sealed.
4. Fill 12 of the pupusas with one of the fillings and then follow the same steps with the other filling to make 12 more pupusas.
5. Heat a griddle or nonstick skillet and brush it with a little vegetable oil. Cook the pupusas over medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes on each side or until they are lightly golden.
6. Place the pupusas in a 200-degree oven to keep warm until you are ready to serve.
Curtido is a Salvadoran version of coleslaw that is a little tangy and spicy and will add a nice crunch to your pupusas. It is like a kimchi or sauerkraut because it is fermented, but we adapted this recipe a bit to simplify it. We added a little shredded green apple to help balance out the bite of the raw onion and kick from the fresh jalapeno.
1 bag finely shredded cabbage
1 cup shredded carrots
½ cup sliced yellow onion
½ cup shredded Granny Smith apples
1 fresh jalapeno, seeded and chopped
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons honey
½ cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1. Place the cabbage, carrots, onion and shredded apples in a bowl and toss to combine.
2. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients and pour over the cabbage mixture. Toss again until all is incorporated.
3. Cover the curtido and chill for several hours before serving.
Check out our recipe for decadent Peanut Butter S’mores Bars to cap off this fall menu. The recipe and plenty more can be found at 225batonrouge.com/recipes.
This article was originally published in the October 2017 issue of 225 Magazine.