Anyone who has ever lived in New Mexico knows what a Sopaipilla is.
A delicious New Mexican spin on Native American fry bread, these ‘little pillows’ puff up with air when fried. And I do mean puff up!
Traditional New Mexican Sopapillas – The Goldilocks Kitchen
You talk about being full of hot air, the pocket inside is perfect for filling with honey, frijoles con carne (refried beans and meat), or even ice cream. They can be eaten as an appetizer, main course, or even dessert! They are as unique as the area they originate from. (And no, they are not scones!!!)
Next to Hatch Green Chile, the Sopapilla is the iconic symbol of New Mexican food and can be found in just about every Mexican restaurant. One of the amazing things I love about the Southwest is the history and cultures of the area. The integration of Hispanic and Native American traditions permeates everything from architecture to food. Take a drive by one of the Pueblos on a summer weekend and you’ll probably be able to buy fresh Indian fry bread roadside. Make sure you stop and try some; I love it! Indian fry bread is the same shape and size as a dinner plate, with lots of ‘bubbles’ formed when the dough is fried. Sopapillas are a bit different in that the dough is rolled thinner and cut into square pieces. It fries up extra puffy and totally hollow inside
Puffy, golden and hollow Sopapillas are perfect for drizzling with honey or stuffing with carne adovada or beans.
4 cups sifted flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups warm water
More vegetable oil for frying (at least 2 1/2 cups)
In the bowl of a stand mixer (or a regular mixing bowl if making by hand) whisk the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar together. Create a small depression in the center and pour in the 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Whisk in the oil. (I use the paddle attachment on my stand mixer.) It will incorporate unevenly into little clumps, this is okay.
Gently pour in the warm water and knead the dough until it is smooth. It only takes one to two minutes using the dough hook in a stand mixer. If kneading by hand, gently knead in the bowl until the dough sticks together. Place on a lightly floured surface and continue until the dough is smooth.
Divide the dough in half, and seal each half in a zipper lock bag to rest the dough while you heat the oil for frying.
Heat frying oil in a stove top dutch oven, or in a heavy duty frying pan, to around 340 to 350 degrees. The oil should be at least 2 inches deep.
Remove one portion of dough and roll out on a clean, flourless surface. Roll the dough to a thickness of 1/8 inch. Using a pizza cutter, cut the dough into squares approximately 4 X 4 for a nice restaurant look. (I personally don’t mind frying up the extra triangles that are left.) Place a sheet of plastic wrap over the rolled out dough. It’s very important the dough stay moist and not dry out, or it won’t puff.
Gently place an individual square of dough into the hot oil. It should begin to puff up within about 5 seconds. I like to use a large spoon or tongs to carefully splash oil over the top, this really seems to help the sopaipilla puff. Once it’s finished puffing up, fry until it reaches a light golden brown on both sides. Place in a large bowl lined with paper towels. Repeat with the remaining dough. Serve immediately with honey.