During last fall’s McCain-Obama Presidential election season, TV channel Comedy Central’s website had a feature called “remember when you cared about…” which reprised some of the now (& then) farcical action from the previous Presidential campaigns of W. Bush and John Kerry. The 2004 race was my first such campaign-season as a resident of this country, and Comedy Central reminded me that my particular favorite of the farces that staggered me at the time, for no other reason than I found it to be among the most ridiculous things I’d ever heard, was the furore over coma-patient Terri Schiavo’s right to live/die. This tragic, though utterly irrelevant coincidence captured the moral outrage/derision of an entire country for a while, managing somehow to obfuscate the abject performance of the Bush administration’s first term, and win them a second.
So, shamelessly parroting a humorous idea from said TV channel (while simultaneously removing the humor), we’re re-posting a meal we made a little over a year ago because it’s a great dish that we make regularly, and, ahem, because you, quite clearly, don’t remember that you didn’t care about it last time…
Sopes are a delicious and easy alternatives to your boring old tortilla. We love piling these cornmeal “cakes” up high with a variety of toppings – beef, pork, pulled chicken or even just beans. One of our obsessions is La Morena’s Chipotle Sauce. I could drink this stuff. It’s better than ketchup… yes, I said it. Mixed with a bit of lime juice and cream/crema or sour cream and you’ve got a great topping for steak, chicken or sopes! Give these crispy sopes a try and use your creativity to top it with whatever delicious things you find.
For sopes and chicken:
- 2 cups masa harina
- more or less 1 cup warm water
- pinch of salt
- vegetable or corn oil or frying
- 1 large bone-in chicken breast or 2 medium sized ones (with or without skin – just take skin off after you boil)
- 1 onion, sliced thin
- 1 green or red pepper, cut in half and sliced into 1/2” slices
- 1 minced clove of garlic
- juice of 1 lime
- 1-2 scallions, sliced
- 1 teaspoon cumin (optional)
- 1 teaspoon chipotle powder (optional)
- 1-2 cups of our black beans with chorizo and cumin
- sour cream as a topping (optional)
- cotija, shredded cheddar or monterey jack cheese as a topping (optional)
- 3 tablespoons chipotle sauce + squeeze of lime + 1 tablespoon cream (optional)
- 1/2 cup tomatillo avocado sauce or chopped avocado (optional)
- Boil some water and cook your chicken breasts for 15 to 20 minutes or until it is not pink inside. How long you boil it for will depend on how big the piece is. Once it is cooked, remove from water and allow to cool.
- Make your tomatillo-avocado salsa (if you choose to top your sopes with this).
- Start making your beans with chorizo and cumin.
- Time to make the sopes. In a bowl, add your masa along with a pinch of salt and the water, slowly to make sure you don’t make the batter to thin. You want it to be thick, not like pancake batter. If you need to add water, add more. If you feel like it’s too thin, add more masa. It should hold together by pressing it between your palms. You will want to shape them and fry them about the same time (I’ve found that the dried masa sometimes doesn’t stick together as well as I’d like it to). Reserve the masa mix in the bowl until you’re ready to fry your cakes.
- When your chicken breasts are cooked, allow to cool and then shred using your hands or a fork.
- In a pan on medium, saute your onions and pepper in some olive oil. Add your minced garlic. After 4 minutes or so, add your shredded chicken breasts and your spices (cumin, chipotle powder and some salt if necessary). Add the juice of half a lime and stir. Allow to warm the chicken back up, then turn on low to keep warm.
- Now, it’s time to fry your sopes. Take a lump of masa/water mixture and push it down so it’s about 1”-1 1/2” thick in a circular shape. It does NOT have to be perfect. Usually mine end up being anywhere between 4″ to 6″ in diameter.
- Heat your oil up so it’s in frying-mode, making sure the oil level is about 1” to 2” deep. When oil is hot, using a spatula, slowly slide your sopes into the oil. After 1 1/2 minutes check it to see if you can turn. You want them to be a golden color, not very dark. They get very cruchy even if they do not look that brown.
- Remove from oil and allow to drain on paper towels and sprinkle with a bit of salt.
- Now it’s time to build! On top your your sopes, add a layer of your beans, then a layer of your shredded chicken/onions/peppers mixture. Top with your optional toppings like cheese, tomatillo salsa, a small dollop of sour cream, a squeeze more of lime, chipotle sauce and some sliced scallions.