" Con Air" Donít Drop the Sopas

You don't need to spend time in the big house to enjoy this recipe. Join Claud and the gang as they make "Donít Drop the Sopas."

For the sopes:

  • 3 cups masa harina (ground corn tortilla flour)
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water plus 1/2 cup, as needed
  • Lard or vegetable oil, as needed
For the beans:
  • 1/2 small white onion, sliced as thinly as humanly possible
  • 3 cups fully cooked pinto beans
For the tomato sauce:
  • 1 pound ripest tomatoes or tomatillos
  • 3 or 4 whole Serrano chilies, stems removed
  • 2 cloves peeled garlic
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 small onion, shopped fine
  • Sea salt, to taste
For the garnishes:
  • Cooked and shredded chicken, beef, lamb, fish or pork
  • Finely chopped white onion
  • Finely shredded lettuce, red cabbage or green cabbage
  • Grated or crumbled Mexican cheese, like queso anejo or queso fresco

1. In a large mixing bowl, combine masa harina and warm water. Blend well, adding more as needed to make a moist, cohesive dough. Knead well until smooth. Cover with a damp cloth and let sit in a cool spot for one hour.

Knead a few more times and divide into three equal pieces. Roll each piece out into a log and then divide each log into four equal parts. Roll each into a ball, covering dough with a damp cloth as you work to prevent drying.

2. Heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat with a thin layer of oil or lard until the oil begins to shimmer. Add the onion and a pinch of salt and fry until golden. Add the beans and any bean juice and cook, stirring and mashing often for fifteen to twenty minutes until smooth. Keep warm until needed.

3. Heat an ungreased griddle or cast iron skillet over medium heat. Place the tomatillos or tomatoes and the Serrano peppers and whole garlic cloves on the griddle and roast for about 10 minutes, until their skins begin to blister and brown on all sides. Transfer the roasted chilies to a blender or food processor, add one of the roasted tomatoes, the garlic, and the salt and puree until smooth. Add the remaining tomatoes and pulse a few times to leave some chunks. Stir in the chopped onion and chopped cilantro, cover and set aside.

4. Heat an un-greased cast iron skillet or Mexican Comal over medium heat. Using your palms or a tortilla press lined with plastic wrap, gently press one ball into a 3Ē disc about 1/3Ē thick (like a fat tortilla). Transfer the disc to the preheated skillet and cook about a minute and a half on each side.

Working quickly while the disc is still hot, use your fingertips to pinch up the edges all around the sope to resemble a deep-dish pizza. Return to the skillet, flat side down and continue cooking another minute and a half. Repeat with the remaining balls and set aside.

Heat an inch of oil or lard in a second, heavy skillet over medium-high heat and fry the sopes for 30 seconds on each side to crisp up and heat through.

5. Spread warm sopes with fried beans and garnish with shredded meat of choice, Mexican cheese, chopped onion, shredded red & green cabbage, and tomato and/or tomatillo sauces. Enjoy!

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