The Spice Rack

"There is no love sincerer than the love of food." Join me as I explore this love with reckless abandon. Each week try a new recipe from a different region. Read a little about each recipes' history and a lot about what it took to get it from the pages of the cookbook to the dinner table.

Saturday, February 11, 2006


Hello fellow cooks,

For my first post in this new cooking blog I thought I would start with a tried and true recipe, one that has received rave reviews in the past. Since the theme of this blog is to try a recipe from a different region every week I thought I would start out with a regional cuisine that I know well, New Mexican.

Most people think that New Mexican and Mexican food are the same things. These people have obviously never been to New Mexico and tried the food or met a New Mexican, we are quick to point out the subtle differences. To illustrate those differences I will give you the recipe for one of my favorite New Mexican foods, sopapillas.

Sopapillas have a special place in my heart. The soft pillow of fried dour drizzled with honey made a weekly appearance at our dinner table when I was growing up and I have fond memories of stuffing myself to near explosion on them.

New Mexican "sopas" are a little different than their Mexican counterparts. Ours are not a dessert and are not rolled in cinnamon and sugar. They are traditionally served as an appetizer, at many New Mexican restaurants in Albuquerque you will sit down to a basket of warm sopapillas before your meal arrives. And they are served drizzled with honey. In our house, and at many restaurants, we make stuffed sopapillas turning them into a main course. When I tell people about this I generally get a disgusted look, as they are used to the Mexican variety of sopapillas. But I strongly suggest you try this, it is one of my favorite New Mexican meals.

After you have made the sopapillas, tear off the top of one and stuff it with refried beans, ground beef, cheese, salsa, tomatoes etc. It becomes something like a taco, but with a delicious twist.
Here's my moms recipe and the one I have been wowing friends with since moving to Missouri.
4 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon shortening
1 package (about 1 tablespoon) dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1 1/4 cup scalded milk

Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
Next dissolve the yeast in the warm water. To scald the milk put it in the microwave or on a stovetop until it is on the verge of boiling. Let the milk cool and then add the yeast and water mixture and stir.
Make a well out of the dry ingredients and pour in the liquid ingredients slowly mixing together until you have dough.
Knead the dough 10/20 times until it is slightly elastic and let rise for about 10 minutes.

This recipe makes about 3/4 dozen sopapillas. From here I suggest dividing the dough into quarters, roll out each quarter into a square that is about 1/8 of an inch thick and cut the dough into nine squares. Each of these squares will become a sopapilla.
Warm vegetable oil in a large sauce pan to about 420 degrees (you want it hot but not scalding or you will they will cook to fast and not have time to puff up, medium heat on a stovetop works well) You can use however much oil you want, but it should be deep enough in the pan so that the piece of dough can be submerged.
Now here's the fun part. Drop one of the squares of dough into the hot oil and let it submerge. Here's my trick to get it to puff up (the hardest part of the recipe, nobody like flat sopas) tap the side of the piece of dough gently but consistently with spatula, or whatever you are using to remove the sopapilla from the oil. Once it has puffed with air, flip it and cook the other side. Continue to flip and cook until both sides are golden brown and repeat with all dough. When you get really good you should be able to cook more than one at a time.
Serve while they are still warm with honey, or try the stuffed variety suggested above.
Hope you enjoy!


Blogger Rex said...

Thank you. I had just copied an almost identical recipe from COOKS.COM,(recipe#4).It did NOT give the amount of flour. Your post just saved my day. It has been years since my now deceased wife had made any.

6:32 PM  
Blogger Rex said...

Thank you. I had just copied an almost identical recipe from COOKS.COM,(recipe#4).It did NOT give the amount of flour. Your post just saved my day. It has been years since my now deceased wife had made any.

6:32 PM  
Blogger Kathi said...

I travel to Alb a couple of times a year for business and sopapillas are one of my favorites. I love stuffed sopapillas and Thank You for posting this. I can't wait to try it.

10:09 AM  
Blogger jb said...

We just got back from a trip around Taos and had some sopas at Michael's Kitchen. I got to introduce my kids to them. It has been a long time since I had any real ones. I promised I would look up how to when we got home. found your post. Great directions. We can't wait to try them.

10:48 AM  
Blogger Adrianne said...

Heather! Help! I'm having a sopapilla emergency. My cousin and I (our family is from Albuquerque) are throwing a New mexico fiesta this sunday (July 22nd) on Maui where we live. We just tried your sopapilla recipe but with less than perfect results.

The dough seemed too dry, or maybe too dense, the final sopapilla was not as fluffy as it should be. And the flavor seemed to be mission something, it was a little bland. Although they did puff up they were thin on one side and too thick on the other.

If you have pity upon a sopapilla virgin you can email or even better, call me 808-214-9733

5:39 PM  

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