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Wild Pork Papusas with Salsa Roja

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These papusas are a delicious and hearty Salvadoran and Honduran treat. Usually served with both salsa roja (a red tomato sauce) and curtido (a spicy fermented cabbage slaw), I opted to serve mine with only the salsa roja. Why? Because I thought I had cabbage in the crisper, but I didn’t. Happens to the best of us!

Papusas are traditionally stuffed with cheese, refried beans, fish, squash, or chicharron (fried pork or pork rinds). I stuffed these papusas with my take on another traditional stuffing ingredient, a pork paste, but made with wild pork which I obtained on a hunt at the Harvesting Nature Wild Pig Hunting Skills Camp in Texas. I also added cheese because… cheese. Making them is a little fiddly, but you quickly get used to it and can become a pro by the time you’re done your first batch. If you are having trouble, there are YouTube tutorials out there that will help!

Serving Size: Makes 12 papusas – Serves 4-6

Time to make: 2 hours

Also works with: Bear, Domestic Pork

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Wild Pork Papusas with Salsa Roja

Recipe by Adam Berkelmans
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Course: Wild Pig, Wild Recipes


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  • For the Filling
  • 1lb wild pork shoulder or hindquarter, cut into cubes (or use stewing meat cubes)

  • 1 teaspoon + ¼ cup pork lard or oil

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • ½ teaspoon black pepper

  • 1 small onion, finely chopped

  • ½ green bell pepper, finely chopped

  • 1 small tomato, chopped

  • 1 jalapeño pepper, finely chopped

  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese, grated, then chopped

  • For the Salsa
  • 2 cups chopped tomatoes, canned or fresh

  • 1 small onion, chopped

  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped

  • 1 jalapeño pepper, chopped

  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves

  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika

  • Pinch kosher salt

  • Pinch black pepper

  • 1 handful chopped cilantro

  • For the Dough
  • 5 cups masa harina

  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt

  • 3 ¾ cups cold water


  • Heat 1 teaspoon of lard or oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add pork, salt, and pepper and
    cook, stirring every so often, until well-browned on all sides, about 10 minutes.
  • Reduce heat to medium and add the onion, pepper, tomato, jalapeño, and garlic. Cook until
    softened, about 5 minutes.
  • Cut a piece of pork in half, or test it with a meat thermometer to make sure that it has been fully
    cooked through. It should be over 150°F internally, with no pink. Cook longer if not.
  • Transfer the contents of the skillet to a food processor or blender, then blitz using the pulse
    button until it’s formed a chunky paste (think refried beans for consistency). Transfer to a bowl
    and set aside.
  • Rinse out the blender/food processor, then blend the salsa ingredients (with a small pinch of
    salt and pepper) together until mostly smooth. Transfer to a pot over low heat and cook for 30
    minutes. Taste and add more salt and pepper if need be.
    Set aside.
  • Blend the masa harina and the salt in a large bowl. Slowly add the cold water, mixing it in with a
    wooden spoon, then switching to your hands. Once all of the water is incorporated, the dough
    should feel somewhat like clay and should hold together if squeezed.
  • Wet your hands, then form a ball somewhere between a golf and tennis ball in size. Press the
    ball into the cup of one hand, flattening it out as much as possible without breaking it apart. Put
    a tablespoon of the pork filling and a pinch of the cheese into the middle. Using wet fingers, pull the sides up around the filling, so that you are once more forming a ball. I found it sometimes
    necessary to add another pinch of dough on top to close the ball around the filling.
  • Take the ball and flatten it back into a thick pancake, just under an inch thick. Use masa dough
    to repair any cracks or holes that show bits of filling. Repeat with the rest of the dough and
    filling. As you get the hang of the process, you can try adding more filling to the dough cups. You
    should end up with around 12 papusas.
  • Heat up 2 tablespoons of lard or oil in a (preferably cast iron) skillet over medium heat. Add a
    papusa (or 2-3 if they’ll fit) and cook for about 5-7 minutes per side, or until golden. You can
    keep the finished ones in a warm oven while you cook the rest. Add more lard or oil each time
    you cook new papusas
  • Serve hot with the salsa roja and/or curtido. Enjoy!

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Adam Berkelmans

Adam Berkelmans, also known as The Intrepid Eater, is a passionate ambassador for real food and a proponent of nose to tail eating. He spends his time between Ottawa and a cozy lake house north of Kingston, Ontario. When not cooking, he can be found hunting, fishing, foraging, gardening, reading, traveling, and discovering new ways to find and eat food.

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