tlacoyo masa pockets or "yummy bean empanada-like thingies"

by Stacy

This is my last Sunday off until late October. Next week we switch to having Mondays off — that’s actually a normal theater schedule.

It’s actually sort of nice to have a weekday free to run errands and go to the bank and do laundry when everyone else in the universe is back at work. The bummer is when your friends are also back at work.

Dinner around here has been a lot of repeats, but my husband has been doing an admirable job of keeping us fed with non-macaroni-based meals. There is definite teamwork involved and some kitchen safety reminders that have come up, but not as much daylight or photography involved as usual. I’m actually trying to get him to write a “guest” post for me!

What photography I did manage for this post is poorly-lit. Don’t let that dissuade you from making these, though, because they were really good. Any dish that has me excited about leftovers is impressive.

tlacoyo masa pockets

These unassuming lumps are made from masa harina, the finely-ground lime-treated corn meal used to make corn tortillas. They are filled with refried black beans and cheese, then fried. Crunchy coleslaw and spicy salsa make a nice contrast to the softer textures of the masa pockets.

The filling can be prepared in advance, and I made my coworkers super jealous when I took leftovers for lunch to reheat in the toaster oven. I tossed a little frozen corn in the filling for that one and it worked nicely. Some sauteed peppers wouldn’t be bad, either.

tlacoyo masa pockets

The first pocket I made cracked and fell apart, but the rest worked out really well after I figured out the right technique. I detailed it below in the recipe instructions.

My only disappointment was the slaw recipe I tried. It called for chiles de arbol but turned out a bit bland. The concept was good, but I would use a slaw like this instead, maybe with a little jalapeno added.

Also, I have no idea how to properly pronounce “tlacoyo,” let alone remember it. We have been calling them “the empanada-like thingies,” and it works for us.

What meals do you save for your day off?

tlacoyo masa pockets

Tlacoyo Masa Pockets

Adapted from Serious Eats
Serves 4


  • 1 cup masa flour (such as Maseca)
  • 3/4 cup of water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil plus more for frying
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked black beans, or 1 can (15 ounces) black beans
  • 2 ounces shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • salsa, chopped onion, and cilantro for garnish


  1. Whisk together masa and salt. Add water and stir to combine. Add more water if needed until all flour is incorporated; form dough into a ball.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally until softened, about 4 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant. Add beans, unrinsed, and raise heat to high, cooking for 3-4 more minutes. Use a wooden spoon or a spatula to mash beans. Remove from heat.
  3. Divide masa dough into four pieces (I weigh the dough on a kitchen scale to help do this) and roll each piece into a ball. Cut open the sides of a 1-gallon plastic zip-top bag. Place a ball of dough between the pieces of plastic bag. Use a heavy skillet or rolling pin to flatten the dough into a circle about 8 inches in diameter.
  4. Peel one piece of plastic off the dough. Add a scoop of refried beans and a sprinkle of cheese to the dough, then use the plastic bag to fold the circle in half to form a semi-circular pocket. Pinch the edges closed then carefully peel off the rest of the plastic. Repeat with the other 3 balls of dough.
  5. Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over fairly high heat. Add the masa pockets 2 at a time to avoid crowding. Cook on each side for 3-4 minutes until golden brown. Drain on paper towels before serving.
  6. Serve hot with salsa, onion, cilantro, avocado, and/or vinegar-based coleslaw.

tlacoyo masa pockets

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Kimberly August 23, 2010 at 5:21 am

Definitely will be trying this one! I’ll conquer the corn tortilla yet! Looks like I’ll be disconnecting the smoke detector first :)


Kimberly August 29, 2010 at 5:35 pm

Made these tonight for dinner plus three lunches. The title is very accurate! By the fourth one I achieved (I would like to think) perfection.


Bridget August 23, 2010 at 10:01 am

Hm, maybe I’ll make these this week instead of the quinoa-black bean salad that I forgot to buy quinoa for. It’s almost definitely too much work for a weeknight, but when has that ever stopped me before?


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