Almost every time we eat out at one of our favorite local Mexican cheap-eats, it is difficult for me to resist the crunchy and tasty sopes. These traditional Mexican dish involves fried masa cakes and can be topped with a variety of things – chorizo, beef, chicken, pork, veggies or beans. Some are made small as a sort of appetizer or first course, we make them larger for a main meal (about 6 inches in diameter). If you kind of ‘pinch’ the sides of the masa, it helps some of your toppings stay on the sopes. I really get excited when I know we’re going to make a weeknight meal out of this because, yes, it involves a bit of frying, and we all know how good anything fried tastes, but the combo of flavors and the layering of flavors is really amazing.
One sauce, or salsa, we make often to top our enchiladas, burritos, fajitas and sopes is a delicious tomatillo-avocado salsa. For some of our readers, it may be difficult to find tomatillos, the small green, ‘tomato-like’ fruit with a brown husk surrounding it. They are not green tomatoes, though. Research finds that these beauties never took hold in Europe and the beloved red tomato was taken to Italy where it reigns supreme today. These sweet treasures are used in a lot of Latin American cooking. If you can get your hands on them, I highly recommend giving them a try. Make sure you husk and wash the stickiness off them before you use them!
Please don’t be turned off by what seems like alot of work to make this meal. If you’ve ever made burritos or fajitas, you can make sopes! If you don’t have tomatillos or can not get them, don’t worry, just top with your favorite salsa!
SHREDDED CHICKEN SOPES WITH TOMATILLO-AVOCADO SALSA
(serves 2 for 2 big entree sized sopes)
- 2 cups masa harina
- 1 cup warm water (may need less)
- pinch of salt
- vegetable or corn oil or frying
- 1 large chicken breast or 2 medium sized ones (with or without skin – just take skin off after you boil)
- 1 onion, sliced in 1/2” half moons
- 1 green or red pepper, cut in half and sliced into 1/2” slices
- 1 minced clove of garlic
- juice of 1 lime
- 2 scallions, sliced
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon chipotle powder
- 1-2 cups of our beans with chorizo and cumin (you can make these without the chorizo as well)
- sour cream as a topping
- cojita, shredded cheddar or monterey jack cheese as a topping
- tomatillo-avocado salsa for topping (SEE BELOW)
What to do:
- Boil some water and cook your chicken breasts for 12-15 minutes or until it is not pink inside. How long you boil it for will depend on how big the piece is.
- Make your tomatillo-avocado salsa (see below).
- Start making your beans w/ chorizo and cumin if you choose to.
- In a bowl, add your masa. a pinch of salt and the water. 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. 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 this 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. Keep handy so you can add them at the end of Step 5.
- 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. If you can pinch the sides of it up a bit, this could help your topping from moving. Many times I do not do this, so don’t worry if you just have a disc-like masa cake. 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.
- 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 and a bit of shredded cheese. Top with your tomatillo salsa, a small dollop of sour cream, a squeeze more of lime on top and scatter some sliced scallions! ENJOY!!
- 4 tomatillos, husks removed and roasted
- 1/2 ripe Haas avocado
- 1 1/2 cups of cilantro (or two big palmfuls)
- 1 scallion (or 1/4 onion if you don’t have a scallion), cut in half
- juice of 1 lime
- 1 tablespoon of sour cream
- 1/2 – 1 jalapeno (if you want it spicy), minced
- food processor or blender
What to do:
- Preheat your oven to 457 degrees. Husk, de-stem and wash your tomatillos. Roast your tomatillos on a baking sheet for 10 minutes whole. They will look a bit brown and will be very juicy.
- In a blender or food processor, add all the rest of your ingredients including the roasted tomatillos. Puree until smooth. Put in a bowl and into the refridgerator to cool down. See, so easy!!
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