Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Like most people my age around North Texas, I was introduced to sopapillas by local Tex-Mex/Mexican restaurants. Pancho's to be specific. A lot of people look down on Pancho's because its a buffet style place and its cheap. Flautas, Tacos, Enchiladas, Chile Rellenos...all you can eat. When my friends and I would go back in our high school days it was about $4 or $5 plus your drink. Most of us played football and/or basketball so we were always hungry so Pancho's was the ideal spot to fill up. The food was, and at some locations still is, very good. They serve so much that everything is usually fresh and piping hot. But the buffet line food wasn't what we were really there for. We could eat until we would burst but we always had room for the sopapillas. These little puffed squares of pastry were light, airy and slightly sweet. Everyone had their own style of eating them but the one common thing for us was honey, and lots of it. Tear off a corner and fill it, poke the top of the squeeze bottle into one of the bubbled up pastry layers, or drizzle it over the top....always a treat.
Sopapillas are basically fried dough. Not much to them really but sometimes its the simplest things that are the best. They come from Mexico & South America. As with most foods each culture and region has its own version. The ones we had at Pancho's were of the New Mexico/Texas/Mexico variety. As you move farther south the recipe and ingredients change as well as the usage. Some are savory and used like a bread or tortilla and topped or stuffed with meats and vegetables. Others are sweet and eaten as a treat or on special occasions. The recipes I chose to work with were for a Chilean style sopapilla which is eaten in the late morning or early afternoon as kind of a "pick me up". Its loaded with fiber and carbs to help get you through the day. It is basically a fried savory pumpkin quick bread. The most basic of ingredients are used and you can eat this as is or add some sugar or spices to really transform it into something completely different. If you try this recipe I urge you to try a couple without the "Pumpkin Pie Dust". The flavor is great and they will fill you up.
Be sure to get your oil temperature up to 375(F) before frying.
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
8 oz canned or fresh pureed pumpkin(butternut squash or sweet potatoes can be substituted)
1/2 cup lard, shortening or margarine - melted (I use shortening)
Vegetable oil for frying
Pumpkin Pie Dust
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground clove
1/4 tsp ground ginger
In a mixing bowl combine 2 cups of flour with the baking soda and salt. Mix to incorporate. Add in the pumpkin and mix by hand, adding the melted shortening until it forms a dough. Work it to distribute the moisture but don't over work it.
On a floured surface roll out the dough to about 1/8 inch thickness. Using a 3 inch round cookie/pastry cutter cut out as many circles as you can. Keep the trimmings.
Fry the cut outs 4 at a time letting each side turn golden brown before flipping. These don't take very long to cook. Flip, brown the second side then remove from the oil and drain on a rack or a paper towel.
In a small bowl mix together the Pumpkin Pie Dust ingredients. Roll each sopapilla in the dust and set aside.
Ready to serve.
Makes about 12-16 Sopapillas.