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  1. Combine tomato sauce, water, cilantro, green bell pepper, onion, crushed garlic, bouillon cube, and salt in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook and stir until vegetables are soft, about 20 minutes. Let salsa roja cool for 10 minutes.

  2. Fill a blender halfway with the salsa roja. Cover and hold lid down with a potholder; pulse a few times before leaving on to blend. Pour into a bowl. Repeat with remaining salsa roja. Return to saucepan and simmer for 10 minutes more stirring occasionally. Allow to cool completely, about 1 hour, and refrigerate.

  3. Place cabbage and carrots in a large bowl. Add 4 cups boiling water and let stand for 5 minutes. Drain well. Mix in vinegar, scallions, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Chill curtido until serving.

  4. Place bacon in a large skillet and cook over medium-high heat, turning occasionally, until almost fully cooked and not yet crispy, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer bacon and grease (if desired) to a food processor. Add tomatoes, quartered green bell pepper, Monterey Jack cheese, and minced garlic. Puree and season the chicharron with salt.

  5. Mix masa harina and 1/2 cup water together in a bowl by hand. Add the remaining water slowly, about 2 tablespoons at a time, mixing well after each addition, until dough is moist but still firm. Cover with a wet towel.

  6. Heat 1/2 cup oil a large skillet over medium-high heat.

  7. Take a golf ball-sized piece of dough and roll into a ball in your hands. Make a hole in the dough ball with your thumb; put a small amount of chicharron inside the hole, close it up, and flatten the ball with your hands into a thick tortilla shape. Place pupusa in the skillet and fry until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Repeat with the remaining dough and chicharron.

  8. Serve each pupusa topped with 2 tablespoons of curtido and 1 tablespoon of salsa roja.

  Harissa Sauce by Chef John

Cook’s Note:

Mozzarella cheese can be substituted for the Monterey Jack cheese.

Editor’s Note:

We have determined the nutritional value of oil for frying based on a retention value of 10% after cooking. Amount will vary depending on cooking time and temperature, ingredient density, and specific type of oil used.

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