Moving to a small remote town in the middle of a desert, there are definitely things I’m going to miss. Other a big grocery store, that is. Sushi restaurants, for one, and long fall and spring seasons, and skylines, and squirrels and deer in my backyard, and, well, green things.
On the other hand, there are things I’m really looking forward to. Skies that go on forever, shockingly colorful sunsets, lizards and antelope, cacti, two national parks within 50 miles, mountains. And New Mexican food. Green chile, red chile, rice and beans, sopaipillas.
Sopaipillas are maybe the New Mexican equivalent of donuts. Dough, enriched with lard and leavened with either yeast or baking powder, is rolled flat and fried. It puffs like a pita in the oil, forming a pocket that’s pretty much designed to be filled with honey. Or carne adovada, if you’re thinking dinner.
A basket of these is served with any meal in a restaurant serving New Mexican food. Or if it isn’t, it’s cause for complaint about how cheap the restaurant is to charge, even a dollar, for something that by all rights should be included for free with a meal.
Everyone has their own tricks for eating their sopaipillas with honey. Bite a corner off and squirt honey inside? Drizzle the honey over the top? My favorite way, for maximum coverage with minimum stickiness, is to form a pool of honey on my plate and dip each bite.
There may not be sushi in Carlsbad, NM, but by god, there’ll be sopaipillas that I don’t have to fry myself.
One year ago: Comparison of 4 chocolate chip cookie recipes
Printer Friendly Recipe
Sopaipillas (adapted from Simply Simpatico, by the Junior League of Albuquerque)
Makes about 2 large dozen sopaipillas
4 cups (19.2 ounces) all-purpose flour, plus more if necessary
1 cup whole wheat flour
2¼ teaspoons (1 package) instant yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
1½ teaspoons salt
1½ cups milk, warmed to 100ºF
¼ cup water
3 tablespoons lard or shortening, melted
vegetable or canola oil for frying
1. Stand mixer: Mix the flours, yeast, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the milk, water, and lard. Continue mixing on medium-low until the dough is elastic and supple, about 8 minutes. You may need to add a little more flour or water to get the correct consistency – smooth but not sticky. Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. (You can refrigerate the dough overnight at this point.)
By hand: Mix the flours, yeast, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and pour in the milk, water, and lard. Stir the mixture until the dough comes together. Transfer it to a floured board or countertop and knead, incorporating as little flour as possible, for about 10 minutes, until the dough is elastic and supple. You may need to add a little more flour or water to get the correct consistency – smooth but not sticky. Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap.
2. Let the dough rise until it’s doubled in size, about 1 hour. Knead it lightly to expel air.
3. When the dough is almost ready, heat 2 inches of vegetable oil in a large Dutch oven to 350ºF.
4. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough, in portions if necessary, until it’s just under 1/8-inch thick. Using a pizza cutter, cut the dough into squares or rectangles of whatever size you want – a few inches per side is standard.
5. Place the squares of dough on lightly floured pans and lightly cover. The cut sopaipillas can stay at room temperature for up to 5 minutes; otherwise, refrigerate them until you’re ready to fry them.
6. Carefully drop two or three sopaipillas into the hot oil. When the rolls begin to puff, gently push them into the hot oil several times to help them puff more evenly. Turn several times; fry until pale gold on both sides, 1-2 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Serve immediately.