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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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  1. I love sopaipillas!!! What a great recipe and awesome photos!! Wow. Have fun in NM!

  2. In Spain all dishes come with bread, bread is served without asking, the same as sopaipillas… only I had never heard about them till today! That’s nice…

  3. I’ve never had a sopaipilla, but they look delicious!

  4. The photos are amazing. Those look so good. Living in El Paso, I know what you mean about the lack of sushi though. At least there is always Mexican food!

  5. Ooh, yum. I’ve made both pita and flatbread before, but never sopaipillas (…yet). My parents don’t like Mexican food so we never had it growing up. Now I’m married to a salsa addict and am discovering all sorts of deliciousness.

  6. treewhisperer says:

    yet another reason to visit you soon…!

  7. I love this post, Bridget. Sopaipillas are, of course, super yummy. My favorite thing about this post, though, is that it caused me to take a second and appreciate the things about Phoenix I usually complain about. You’re so right. There are things to miss no matter where you are, just as there are things to be thankful for. Phoenix and New Mexico are lucky enough to have delicious southwestern food traditions.

  8. Jen just sent me sopaipilla mix 🙂 I love how much you’re looking forward to getting back to NM, and I’m jealous of your New Mexican food – I love, love, love NM food.

  9. Sharon says:

    I didn’t even know mexicans had sopaipillas too. In my neck of the woods they are flat and made with squash.

  10. D. Ann says:

    Bridget, Carlsbad has many things to offer you, but food is not one of them. I grew up there and moved away. You can get great homemade Korean food, if you talk to my mom or the people who own the blanket store in front of La Tienda. But you will most likely have to live off do it yourself cooking or the local Lucy’s restaurant for Mexican.
    Good Luck

    PS Next time on the Carne Add a little dark chocolate shaving. you will love the smell and the flavor.