Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Sopes with Chorizo Refried Beans and Tangy Slaw

This recipe comes from the Food Network Star show, namely, Susie Jimenez. Her schtick was to "spice up" her Mexican roots in her dishes. I think that'a great description of this dish. 

Basically, a sope (soap-ah) is a fried a bowl or disc of masa (corn flour). They can be vessels for just about anything, but this application is filled with chorizo beans and a really great slaw.

The preparation of every component is very straightforward and the flavors aren't stepped on by extra ingredients.

That being said, I'd definitely put this recipe in the "intermediate" category as it does take a bit of time to put everything together. It's nice though, because you can do a lot of things ahead of time, between playing, errands, chores and naps. 

I usually approach my cooking this way. I make everything in pieces throughout the day. It's next to impossible to actually prepare a meal, start to finish with a semi-screaming toddler pulling my hand every 15 minutes.

This meal is really 4 different components, combined for the final meal. 

Like I said, it's a little long, and there are a lot of pictures, let's get started! 

Sopes with Chorizo Refried Beans and Tangy Slaw

4 cups masa harina
2 1/2 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons salt
2 cups corn oil (for frying)

12oz Mexican chorizo
1/4 cup chopped yellow onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cans of pinto beans
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

6 limes, juiced
2 jalapeños, minced with the seeds
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1 cucumber, julienned
1/2 head cabbage, shredded
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon of salt 
1/2 teaspoon of pepper.

Tomato Chile Sauce:
5 dried New Mexican chiles
2 tablespoons oil
1/4 cup minced yellow onions
1 clove garlic, minced
3 Roma tomatoes, diced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

I know it looks like a lot, but if you make each part throughout the day, it's really easy to get it all done. 


I started with the slaw. Usually, the longer a slaw sits, the better, so I did this first thing in the morning and stashed it in the fridge. Oh, I also forgot to buy jalapeños, so I didn't use them. I imagine they'd be awesome in this, so be sure to grab some.

Begin by toasting your fennel seeds in a dry pan over high heat. 

Toast, shaking the pan often, until they become fragrant and deepen in color. Do your very best to not burn them.

Toss them into your slaw vessel when they're done.

Peel a cucumber.

Cut it in half and then julienne.

Cut up half a head of cabbage and add to the mix. I ended up moving the whole lot to a ziplock bag. It will break down considerably, but for now, it's too big for my original container.

Thinly slice a red onion. I used a mandolin. It's the best tool for the job in my opinion.

Roughly chop the cilantro. Don't go overboard here.

Looks good already.
Squeeze your limes. I ended up with almost exactly a cup of juice.

Toss in the lime juice along with a teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper.

Squeeze the air out of the bag and let it sit until dinner.

I actually moved it back into my original container after a few hours. It will reduce by about half due to water loss.


Now, the sauce. This was probably the most labor intensive step and honestly, if you're in a rush you can  even skip this all together. But, I imagine if you're reading this, you're not going to skip it, so proceed.

The original recipe was a little vague and the picture of the finished dish has a yellow sauce, so I don't know what's going on there.

I ended up kind of making the sauce on my own, using her ingredients, so some of the pictures are a little off, as I was making it on the fly.

Start by getting your chiles sorted.

Cut the stems off and shake out the seeds. These chiles aren't super spicy, but I'm not a fan of the seeds.

Cut them with a pair of scissors into about 1 inch chunks and set aside.

Sweat the onions and garlic in a pan for about 5 minutes. 

Add the tomatoes. Cook for about 5 more minutes until they start to break down.

Add all of the chiles into the pan. They will rehydrate and flavor the mix.

Cook for 10 minutes until the chiles are fully hydrated. Season with a bit of salt and pepper. You can taste to make sure. 

When you're happy with the flavor (mine tasted very tomatoey) pour the whole thing into a food processor (or blender).

Process for a full minute.

You can use the sauce right now, but the bits of skin from the dried chiles are not awesome in my book, so I strained it.

Just push/stir through the strainer until most of the liquid is gone.

The solids will be left behind.

Your sauce is finished! It tastes much more "smokey" after the chiles are ground up. Clean tomatoes and smokey chiles.

This is also how enchilada sauce is made btw.

Toss it in the fridge until service.


Now we can make the beans.

Start by cutting the chorizo out of the casing. I got Mexican chorizo and it was a little spicy, so if you don't have a brand you know, this may be hit or miss for the kids.

Don't read the label btw.

Empty the chorizo into a pan over med/high heat and start to cook until the fat starts to render. 

Add the onions and cook for 5 minutes.

Add the garlic and cook for 3 more minutes.

Throw in the beans and toss to combine.

Cook for about 5 minutes to bring them up to temp.

Grab a potato masher and mash in the pan. Be sure to scrape the bottom for any baked on bits.

Once everything is mashed, cook for about 5 more minutes until all the flavors are incorporated. Check for salt and pepper here. I didn't need to add much. Just a shake of each.

You can store this in the fridge too! Just nuke it when you're ready to serve, it turned out fine.


OK, last step!

We're going to make the sopes themselves.

There are a lot of shapes you can make sopes into, but this recipe calls for the "bowl" shape, so that's what I made.

This recipe also calls for 6 servings, but I wanted to just make the whole thing. Odds are you'll have leftovers.

Begin by adding your dry ingredients to a mixing bowl.

Add the chicken broth and give it a stir.

You'll end up with a dough that is just wet enough to come together.

Like this:

Form your sope "soup bowls" on a sheet pan. I used 4 to 4.5 oz balls.

They're crumbly as hell, but you'll get better as you make them. Shoot for about 4" in diameter.

I ended up with 9.

Bake them at 350 for about 8 minutes until they set enough to handle. We're going to be frying them, so they need to stay together.

Get your oil over med/high heat. I HIGHLY recommend using a thermometer whenever you fry. It's so much easier dealing with the temperature fluctuations.

When your oil is up to temp (I was frying at 360F) drop in the sopes. I did one at a time, but depending on your pan, you can do whatever.

I fried them for about 2 1/2 minutes. They'll start to float to the top when they're done.

Golden brown
Drain on a rack with paper towels. You'll want to do this closer to dinner, but you can easily heat these back up in the microwave too.

To build the sope, just start with base and add a scoop of chorizo beans, topped with the slaw and a drizzle of sauce.

While this meal was definitely time consuming to make, it was absolutely divine to eat. Easily one of the best meals to come out of my kitchen in quite a while

The beans were spicy and satisfying and the slaw cut through the richness of the dish. The toasted fennel was a surprisingly great element. It really tied the sauce to the slaw to the beans. The sope was crispy and dense. Almost like a very thick tortilla, or a tortilla cookie of some sort. The sauce was a nice accompaniment to the dish, adding a smoky touch that was outstanding.

Overall, this dish took time, but was absolutely worth it. If you like Mexican food, this will open your eyes past Tex-Mex and taco joints.


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