Sunday, January 10, 2010

Starting the year off right. Yes, that means fried dough

When I was a kid, my family lived in New Mexico. By the time we moved to Portland, Oregon I had developed a taste for green chilies, an addiction to sopapillas and New Mexican accent. If you aren't in the know, sopapillas are fluffy pillows of fried dough that puff when they are cooked leaving an open space in the middle that is the perfect place to squeeze a big gob of honey. Delicious, I tell you.While the accent faded and the taste for green chilies grew into an obsession, the sopapillas just weren't available so the addiction faded. Still, when I think of New Mexico they are in the top 10 list of the things I remember vividly.

I have no idea what made Mr. Dog think of sopapillas this morning, but when I looked over at his laptop a golden sopapilla was staring back at me. Well, as much as a piece of fried dough can stare back without eyes or anything. Mr. Dog grew up in Colorado, so his childhood is similarly peppered with these golden puffs of fried goodness. We talked about them, and salivated over them, then he asked me to make some. I've never done that before. Even when we lived in New Mexico, I don't think my mom made them from scratch, I seem to remember a tub of mix. And I don't remember them turning out quite as delicious as they were at our favorite New Mexican restaurant (that happened to be owned by our neighbors!) Anyhow, with the determination of someone who once had a sopapilla habit, I googled a recipe, adapted it and made a big batch of fried goodness.

Drizzled with honey, served with scrambled eggs topped with cheese and green chilies, they were perfect. I see many more in my future.

Most of the recipes I found online were similar, I made a couple of modifications, making them with whole wheat flour and frying in canola oil in an attempt, make them even slightly less sinful. My recipe is below.

Whole Wheat Sopapillas

3 cups white whole wheat flour (or whole wheat flour)
2 Tbsp vital wheat gluten
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
6 Tbsp butter
1 1/4 cup warm milk
canola oil

In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients, cut in the butter. I use my fingers and mix until the butter and flour mixture is like slightly lumpy sand. Pour in the warm milk and mix with a fork. Once the dough has come together, turn out on a lightly floured surface and knead until the dough is no longer sticky. For me this was about 2 minutes, it might be less for you. Set the dough aside for 15 minutes, covered with plastic wrap to prevent it drying out.

In a heavy pan, heat 3-4 inches of canola oil (or you could use a deep fryer if you have one) to 400 degrees.
When the dough has rested, cut it in half keeping one half covered with plastic while you work with the first half. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough to a rectangular sheet about 1/8th inch thick. Cut in half lengthwise, then cut into triangles about the size of a Starbucks scone (hey, I'm measuringly challenged).
Once you oil is up to heat, drop one dough triangle in and cook each size until the dough turns a beautiful golden brown, then flip and cook the other side. It really doesn't take long a minute or two each side. And they don't like to be flipped, so be prepared for a tiny battle each time. Once they are golden and crispy, take them out of the oil and stow on a cookie sheet that has been lined with paper towels or some kind of rack to keep them from sitting in their excess oil. I put this pan in a 200 degree oven to keep them all warm and delicious until they were ready to be served.
To eat, bit off a corner and put a big spoonful of honey inside. They're delicious.
We had leftovers and I thought they were still pretty tasty nuked for about 45 seconds when I came back to them this afternoon. Mr. Dog says they were also delicious filled with cheese and green chilies when he ate some for lunch.