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SOPAPILLAS

The Sopapilla is a popular New Mexican bread that can be prepared with a variety of twists. It is often served in restaurants as a dessert, but it is traditionally served as a savory side bread. Sopapillas in New Mexico are different from Latin American sopapaillas. New Mexican sopapillas are pillow-shaped fried pastry dough. They are typically served in place of bread, or filled with savory ingredients such as ground beef. When served for dessert, they are often drizzled with honey or anise syrup. Sopapillas, in the incarnation that New Mexicans recognize, are rumored to have originated in Albuquerque more than 200 years ago.

 

A sopapilla, for those who don’t know, is a fried bread with the consistency of a pastry, served as a quick bread in many of the regions settled by the Spanish. The word sopaipilla is the diminutive of sopaipa, a Spanish word from a Mozarabic language called Al-Andalus. The original Mozarabic word, Xopaipa, meant bread soaked in oil. It was derived from the Germanic word Suppa, which meant bread soaked in liquid. Humans figured out early on that frying things in fat is tasty. The word and recipe traveled the world, both altered slightly during the journey and centuries.

 

Sopapillas are the standard dessert for a traditional New Mexican meal. Many restaurants specializing in New Mexican cuisine serve them as a complimentary dessert when you order an entree, like chips and salsa. If a place does not serve sopapillas, I think less of them.

 

They are often stuffed and served as an entree, with meat or calabacitas. When stuffing sopapillas, I highly recommend smothering in chile verde or red chile for New Mexican authenticity and flavor. Truthfully it doesn’t really matter what you do with a sopapilla, sweet or savory, they are tasty.

 

There are many variations on the recipe. This version, from Frances Atencio of El Paragua & El Parasol, is classic northern New Mexico. In the process of writing this, I realized what I have been doing wrong for many years. Sometimes my sopapillas are really puffy, sometimes they are doughy duds. The keys are temperature and thickness of the dough. For puffy sopapillas, don’t allow the dough to be at room temperature for more than five minutes. Roll it to slightly less than 1/8 inch. I'll pay more attention to those two variables next time!

 

Frances Atencio

 

As the matriarch of two respected local restaurant icons, you might expect Frances to be native to New Mexico. No. Luis, her husband, was persuasive, with a keen eye for opportunity, traits that served him well later as the bartender of El Paragua. Luis met Frances while visiting his brother, who was working as a miner in Arizona. Their paths crossed again in California a couple of years later when they were both visiting their brothers, both miners. Serendipity. Luis made the most of the opportunity, convincing Frances to marry him and move to Española.

 

Luis was a plumber, the owner of Valley Plumbing. His family had roots in the valley going back to the Spanish land grant of the 1600s. Frances loved to cook, influenced by Arizona, California (e.g. use of avocado) and New Mexico culinary traditions. She carved a niche in the community, making food for friends and family. As Frances and Luis had children, it was Frances’ culinary skills that paved the way for two of her entrepreneurial sons to go into business selling tacos and tamales out of a bucket on their bikes.

 

With six El Parasol locations and El Paragua locations fifty years later…well, that enterprise grew. Frances’ food, and the restaurants built by Luis, have become a legacy for their children, grand-children and great grand-children. The photo of them with sopapillas says it all — a family that understands and appreciates the flavors of New Mexico, sharing comfort food with the rest of us for decades!

 

Servings: Serves 2 dozen (large), 4 dozen (small)

Ingredients

 

1 package of active dry yeast

¼ cup warm water (110° F)

1 ½ cups milk

3 Tablespoons lard or shortening

1 ½ teaspoon salt

2 Tablespoons sugar

About 4 cups all-purpose flour, unsifted

1 cup whole wheat flour

Salad oil

 

Dissolve the yeast in the warm water in a large mixing bowl. Combine milk, lard/shortening (does not need to melt), salt and sugar in a pan; heat to 110 °. Add dissolved yeast. Beat in 3 cups of all-purpose flour and all of the whole wheat flour. With a heavy duty mixer or spoon, add more flour (about ½ cup) until a sticky dough forms.

 

Turn dough out on a floured board and knead, adding more flour as needed, until dough is smooth and non-sticky. Place the dough in a greased bowl, turning it to grease the top. Cover and let stand at room temperature for an hour to rise. Punch dough down. Kind of like life.

 

If you aren’t ready to cut and fry your sopapillas, you can cover and chill for up to 12 hours. If you are ready to fry them, knead the dough on a lightly floured board to expel air bubbles. Roll the dough out in portions to avoid the dough getting too warm while you are prepping. Roll to slightly less than 1/8 inch thickness. Cut in 3.5 x 5 inch rectangles (or squares, circles, other shapes that suit your whimsy) to make two dozen entrée size sopapillas. Cut in smaller portions for appetizer or dessert sopapillas. Place on lightly floured pans and lightly cover while prepping. Try to avoid having your sopapillas out at room temperature for more than five minutes at a time for maximum puff and fluff. If you need more time to roll and cut them, store in the refrigerator until you are ready to fry.

 

Heat 1.5 – 2 inches of salad oil (your choice) to 350° in a deep, wide frying pan. Fry 2-3 sopapillas at a time. When the bread begins to puff, use a slotted spoon to push the portion of the bread where the air bubble is developing into the hot oil several times to help it puff evenly. Turn several times until both sides are pale gold, typically 1 - 2 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Serve immediately or place in warm oven until all are fried.

 

Sopapillas are best fresh, but if you are preparing them ahead of time, cool them, cover and chill or freeze. To reheat baken them in a 300° oven for 5 – 8 minutes, turning once. Do not overheat or the are more like hockey pucks than sopapillas.

Humor

DESERT HOBBITS

A list conceived on one of those road trips where the road stretches on endlessly and the mind wanders, in this case to hobbits in the southwestern shire.

COMMUNING WITH COWS

Cows outnumber humans in New Mexico, which means trips outside the city limits often involve more escapades with heifers than humans, with impromptu wrangling occasionally required.

SEARCH FOR SASQUATCH

The Navajo have legends about a Sasquatch creature and sightings occur fairly regularly in the northern Rockies, with a high concentration in the Jemez Mountains around the Valles Caldera.

Related

EL PARAGUA POSOLE

Posole is a hearty, traditional soup using pork, posole or hominy (as available) and chile (red or green, flame factor to taste). Comfort food in New Mexico from north to south.

BISCOCHITOS

New Mexico's state cookie arrived with the Spaniards who settled in New Mexico in the 1600s.

CHALUPAS EL PARAGUA

This tasty chicken chalupa is a tasty combo of all four food groups on a corn tortilla.

MARGARITA | SUMMER SALVATION

Southwestern, tequila laden, version of lemonade is a refreshing libation when summer temperatures climb.

Events

NOMAD EVENT HIGHLIGHTS

A highlight of upcoming events throughout the state. For event calendars specific to a community or region, please see the Department of Travel & Tourism's more comprehensive listings.

BALLOON FIESTA

This extraordinary annual event takes place the first weekend of October filling the skies of Albuquerque with hundreds of hot air balloons of every shape and color.

GATHERING OF NATIONS

Held the last weekend of April in Albuquerque, the Gathering of Nations is the largest pow wow in the world, attracting representatives from tribes across the continent. Visually spectacular!

The Sopapilla is a popular New Mexican bread that can be prepared with a variety of twists. It is often served in restaurants as a dessert, but it is traditionally served as a savory side bread. Sopapillas in New Mexico are different from Latin American sopapaillas. New Mexican sopapillas are pillow-shaped fried pastry dough. They are typically served in place of bread, or filled with savory ingredients such as ground beef. When served for dessert, they are often drizzled with honey or anise syrup. Sopapillas, in the incarnation that New Mexicans recognize, are rumored to have originated in Albuquerque more than 200 years ago.

 

A sopapilla, for those who don’t know, is a fried bread with the consistency of a pastry, served as a quick bread in many of the regions settled by the Spanish. The word sopaipilla is the diminutive of sopaipa, a Spanish word from a Mozarabic language called Al-Andalus. The original Mozarabic word, Xopaipa, meant bread soaked in oil. It was derived from the Germanic word Suppa, which meant bread soaked in liquid. Humans figured out early on that frying things in fat is tasty. The word and recipe traveled the world, both altered slightly during the journey and centuries.

 

Sopapillas are the standard dessert for a traditional New Mexican meal. Many restaurants specializing in New Mexican cuisine serve them as a complimentary dessert when you order an entree, like chips and salsa. If a place does not serve sopapillas, I think less of them.

 

They are often stuffed and served as an entree, with meat or calabacitas. When stuffing sopapillas, I highly recommend smothering in chile verde or red chile for New Mexican authenticity and flavor. Truthfully it doesn’t really matter what you do with a sopapilla, sweet or savory, they are tasty.

 

There are many variations on the recipe. This version, from Frances Atencio of El Paragua & El Parasol, is classic northern New Mexico. In the process of writing this, I realized what I have been doing wrong for many years. Sometimes my sopapillas are really puffy, sometimes they are doughy duds. The keys are temperature and thickness of the dough. For puffy sopapillas, don’t allow the dough to be at room temperature for more than five minutes. Roll it to slightly less than 1/8 inch. I'll pay more attention to those two variables next time!

 

Frances Atencio

 

As the matriarch of two respected local restaurant icons, you might expect Frances to be native to New Mexico. No. Luis, her husband, was persuasive, with a keen eye for opportunity, traits that served him well later as the bartender of El Paragua. Luis met Frances while visiting his brother, who was working as a miner in Arizona. Their paths crossed again in California a couple of years later when they were both visiting their brothers, both miners. Serendipity. Luis made the most of the opportunity, convincing Frances to marry him and move to Española.

 

Luis was a plumber, the owner of Valley Plumbing. His family had roots in the valley going back to the Spanish land grant of the 1600s. Frances loved to cook, influenced by Arizona, California (e.g. use of avocado) and New Mexico culinary traditions. She carved a niche in the community, making food for friends and family. As Frances and Luis had children, it was Frances’ culinary skills that paved the way for two of her entrepreneurial sons to go into business selling tacos and tamales out of a bucket on their bikes.

 

With six El Parasol locations and El Paragua locations fifty years later…well, that enterprise grew. Frances’ food, and the restaurants built by Luis, have become a legacy for their children, grand-children and great grand-children. The photo of them with sopapillas says it all — a family that understands and appreciates the flavors of New Mexico, sharing comfort food with the rest of us for decades!

 

Servings: Serves 2 dozen (large), 4 dozen (small)

Ingredients

 

1 package of active dry yeast

¼ cup warm water (110° F)

1 ½ cups milk

3 Tablespoons lard or shortening

1 ½ teaspoon salt

2 Tablespoons sugar

About 4 cups all-purpose flour, unsifted

1 cup whole wheat flour

Salad oil

 

Dissolve the yeast in the warm water in a large mixing bowl. Combine milk, lard/shortening (does not need to melt), salt and sugar in a pan; heat to 110 °. Add dissolved yeast. Beat in 3 cups of all-purpose flour and all of the whole wheat flour. With a heavy duty mixer or spoon, add more flour (about ½ cup) until a sticky dough forms.

 

Turn dough out on a floured board and knead, adding more flour as needed, until dough is smooth and non-sticky. Place the dough in a greased bowl, turning it to grease the top. Cover and let stand at room temperature for an hour to rise. Punch dough down. Kind of like life.

 

If you aren’t ready to cut and fry your sopapillas, you can cover and chill for up to 12 hours. If you are ready to fry them, knead the dough on a lightly floured board to expel air bubbles. Roll the dough out in portions to avoid the dough getting too warm while you are prepping. Roll to slightly less than 1/8 inch thickness. Cut in 3.5 x 5 inch rectangles (or squares, circles, other shapes that suit your whimsy) to make two dozen entrée size sopapillas. Cut in smaller portions for appetizer or dessert sopapillas. Place on lightly floured pans and lightly cover while prepping. Try to avoid having your sopapillas out at room temperature for more than five minutes at a time for maximum puff and fluff. If you need more time to roll and cut them, store in the refrigerator until you are ready to fry.

 

Heat 1.5 – 2 inches of salad oil (your choice) to 350° in a deep, wide frying pan. Fry 2-3 sopapillas at a time. When the bread begins to puff, use a slotted spoon to push the portion of the bread where the air bubble is developing into the hot oil several times to help it puff evenly. Turn several times until both sides are pale gold, typically 1 - 2 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Serve immediately or place in warm oven until all are fried.

 

Sopapillas are best fresh, but if you are preparing them ahead of time, cool them, cover and chill or freeze. To reheat baken them in a 300° oven for 5 – 8 minutes, turning once. Do not overheat or the are more like hockey pucks than sopapillas.

The Sopapilla is a popular New Mexican bread that can be prepared with a variety of twists. It is often served in restaurants as a dessert, but it is traditionally served as a savory side bread. Sopapillas in New Mexico are different from Latin American sopapaillas. New Mexican sopapillas are pillow-shaped fried pastry dough. They are typically served in place of bread, or filled with savory ingredients such as ground beef. When served for dessert, they are often drizzled with honey or anise syrup. Sopapillas, in the incarnation that New Mexicans recognize, are rumored to have originated in Albuquerque more than 200 years ago.

 

A sopapilla, for those who don’t know, is a fried bread with the consistency of a pastry, served as a quick bread in many of the regions settled by the Spanish. The word sopaipilla is the diminutive of sopaipa, a Spanish word from a Mozarabic language called Al-Andalus. The original Mozarabic word, Xopaipa, meant bread soaked in oil. It was derived from the Germanic word Suppa, which meant bread soaked in liquid. Humans figured out early on that frying things in fat is tasty. The word and recipe traveled the world, both altered slightly during the journey and centuries.

 

Sopapillas are the standard dessert for a traditional New Mexican meal. Many restaurants specializing in New Mexican cuisine serve them as a complimentary dessert when you order an entree, like chips and salsa. If a place does not serve sopapillas, I think less of them.

 

They are often stuffed and served as an entree, with meat or calabacitas. When stuffing sopapillas, I highly recommend smothering in chile verde or red chile for New Mexican authenticity and flavor. Truthfully it doesn’t really matter what you do with a sopapilla, sweet or savory, they are tasty.

 

There are many variations on the recipe. This version, from Frances Atencio of El Paragua & El Parasol, is classic northern New Mexico. In the process of writing this, I realized what I have been doing wrong for many years. Sometimes my sopapillas are really puffy, sometimes they are doughy duds. The keys are temperature and thickness of the dough. For puffy sopapillas, don’t allow the dough to be at room temperature for more than five minutes. Roll it to slightly less than 1/8 inch. I'll pay more attention to those two variables next time!

 

Frances Atencio

 

As the matriarch of two respected local restaurant icons, you might expect Frances to be native to New Mexico. No. Luis, her husband, was persuasive, with a keen eye for opportunity, traits that served him well later as the bartender of El Paragua. Luis met Frances while visiting his brother, who was working as a miner in Arizona. Their paths crossed again in California a couple of years later when they were both visiting their brothers, both miners. Serendipity. Luis made the most of the opportunity, convincing Frances to marry him and move to Española.

 

Luis was a plumber, the owner of Valley Plumbing. His family had roots in the valley going back to the Spanish land grant of the 1600s. Frances loved to cook, influenced by Arizona, California (e.g. use of avocado) and New Mexico culinary traditions. She carved a niche in the community, making food for friends and family. As Frances and Luis had children, it was Frances’ culinary skills that paved the way for two of her entrepreneurial sons to go into business selling tacos and tamales out of a bucket on their bikes.

 

With six El Parasol locations and El Paragua locations fifty years later…well, that enterprise grew. Frances’ food, and the restaurants built by Luis, have become a legacy for their children, grand-children and great grand-children. The photo of them with sopapillas says it all — a family that understands and appreciates the flavors of New Mexico, sharing comfort food with the rest of us for decades!

 

Servings: Serves 2 dozen (large), 4 dozen (small)

Ingredients

 

1 package of active dry yeast

¼ cup warm water (110° F)

1 ½ cups milk

3 Tablespoons lard or shortening

1 ½ teaspoon salt

2 Tablespoons sugar

About 4 cups all-purpose flour, unsifted

1 cup whole wheat flour

Salad oil

 

Dissolve the yeast in the warm water in a large mixing bowl. Combine milk, lard/shortening (does not need to melt), salt and sugar in a pan; heat to 110 °. Add dissolved yeast. Beat in 3 cups of all-purpose flour and all of the whole wheat flour. With a heavy duty mixer or spoon, add more flour (about ½ cup) until a sticky dough forms.

 

Turn dough out on a floured board and knead, adding more flour as needed, until dough is smooth and non-sticky. Place the dough in a greased bowl, turning it to grease the top. Cover and let stand at room temperature for an hour to rise. Punch dough down. Kind of like life.

 

If you aren’t ready to cut and fry your sopapillas, you can cover and chill for up to 12 hours. If you are ready to fry them, knead the dough on a lightly floured board to expel air bubbles. Roll the dough out in portions to avoid the dough getting too warm while you are prepping. Roll to slightly less than 1/8 inch thickness. Cut in 3.5 x 5 inch rectangles (or squares, circles, other shapes that suit your whimsy) to make two dozen entrée size sopapillas. Cut in smaller portions for appetizer or dessert sopapillas. Place on lightly floured pans and lightly cover while prepping. Try to avoid having your sopapillas out at room temperature for more than five minutes at a time for maximum puff and fluff. If you need more time to roll and cut them, store in the refrigerator until you are ready to fry.

Heat 1.5 – 2 inches of salad oil (your choice) to 350° in a deep, wide frying pan. Fry 2-3 sopapillas at a time. When the bread begins to puff, use a slotted spoon to push the portion of the bread where the air bubble is developing into the hot oil several times to help it puff evenly. Turn several times until both sides are pale gold, typically 1 - 2 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Serve immediately or place in warm oven until all are fried.

 

Sopapillas are best fresh, but if you are preparing them ahead of time, cool them, cover and chill or freeze. To reheat baken them in a 300° oven for 5 – 8 minutes, turning once. Do not overheat or the are more like hockey pucks than sopapillas.

New Mexico Nomad

The Sopapilla is a popular New Mexican bread that can be prepared with a variety of twists. It is often served in restaurants as a dessert, but it is traditionally served as a savory side bread. Sopapillas in New Mexico are different from Latin American sopapaillas. New Mexican sopapillas are pillow-shaped fried pastry dough. They are typically served in place of bread, or filled with savory ingredients such as ground beef. When served for dessert, they are often drizzled with honey or anise syrup. Sopapillas, in the incarnation that New Mexicans recognize, are rumored to have originated in Albuquerque more than 200 years ago.

 

A sopapilla, for those who don’t know, is a fried bread with the consistency of a pastry, served as a quick bread in many of the regions settled by the Spanish. The word sopaipilla is the diminutive of sopaipa, a Spanish word from a Mozarabic language called Al-Andalus. The original Mozarabic word, Xopaipa, meant bread soaked in oil. It was derived from the Germanic word Suppa, which meant bread soaked in liquid. Humans figured out early on that frying things in fat is tasty. The word and recipe traveled the world, both altered slightly during the journey and centuries.

 

Sopapillas are the standard dessert for a traditional New Mexican meal. Many restaurants specializing in New Mexican cuisine serve them as a complimentary dessert when you order an entree, like chips and salsa. If a place does not serve sopapillas, I think less of them.

 

They are often stuffed and served as an entree, with meat or calabacitas. When stuffing sopapillas, I highly recommend smothering in chile verde or red chile for New Mexican authenticity and flavor. Truthfully it doesn’t really matter what you do with a sopapilla, sweet or savory, they are tasty.

 

There are many variations on the recipe. This version, from Frances Atencio of El Paragua & El Parasol, is classic northern New Mexico. In the process of writing this, I realized what I have been doing wrong for many years. Sometimes my sopapillas are really puffy, sometimes they are doughy duds. The keys are temperature and the thickness of the dough. For puffy sopapillas, don’t allow the dough to be at room temperature for more than five minutes. Roll it to slightly less than 1/8 inch. I'll pay more attention to those two variables next time!

 

Frances Atencio

 

As the matriarch of two respected local restaurant icons, you might expect Frances to be native to New Mexico. No. Luis, her husband, was persuasive, with a keen eye for opportunity, traits that served him well later as the bartender of El Paragua. Luis met Frances while visiting his brother, who was working as a miner in Arizona. Their paths crossed again in California a couple of years later when they were both visiting their brothers, both miners. Serendipity. Luis made the most of the opportunity, convincing Frances to marry him and move to Española.

 

Luis was a plumber, the owner of Valley Plumbing. His family had roots in the valley going back to the Spanish land grant of the 1600s. Frances loved to cook, influenced by Arizona, California (avocado) and New Mexico culinary traditions. She carved a niche in the community, making food for friends and family. As Frances and Luis had children, it was Frances’ culinary skills that paved the way for two of her entrepreneurial sons to go into business selling tacos and tamales out of a bucket on their bikes.

 

With six El Parasol locations and El Paragua locations fifty years later…well, that enterprise grew. Frances’ food, and the restaurants built by Luis, have become a legacy for their children, grand-children and great grand-children. The photo of them with sopapillas says it all — a family that understands and appreciates the flavors of New Mexico, sharing comfort food with the rest of us for decades!

 

Servings: Serves 2 dozen (large), 4 dozen (small)

Ingredients

 

1 package of active dry yeast

¼ cup warm water (110° F)

1 ½ cups milk

3 Tablespoons lard or shortening

1 ½ teaspoon salt

2 Tablespoons sugar

About 4 cups all-purpose flour, unsifted

1 cup whole wheat flour

Salad oil

 

Dissolve the yeast in the warm water in a large mixing bowl. Combine milk, lard/shortening (does not need to melt), salt and sugar in a pan; heat to 110 °. Add dissolved yeast. Beat in 3 cups of all-purpose flour and all of the whole wheat flour. With a heavy duty mixer or spoon, add more flour (about ½ cup) until a sticky dough forms.

 

Turn dough out on a floured board and knead, adding more flour as needed, until dough is smooth and non-sticky. Place the dough in a greased bowl, turning it to grease the top. Cover and let stand at room temperature for an hour to rise. Punch dough down. Kind of like life.

 

If you aren’t ready to cut and fry your sopapillas, you can cover and chill for up to 12 hours. If you are ready to fry them, knead the dough on a lightly floured board to expel air bubbles. Roll the dough out in portions to avoid the dough getting too warm while you are prepping. Roll to slightly less than 1/8 inch thickness. Cut in 3.5 x 5 inch rectangles (or squares, circles, other shapes that suit your whimsy) to make two dozen entrée size sopapillas. Cut in smaller portions for appetizer or dessert sopapillas. Place on lightly floured pans and lightly cover while prepping. Try to avoid having your sopapillas out at room temperature for more than five minutes at a time for maximum puff and fluff. If you need more time to roll and cut them, store them in the refrigerator until you are ready to fry.

 

Heat 1.5 – 2 inches of salad oil (your choice) to 350° in a deep, wide frying pan. Fry 2-3 sopapillas at a time. When the bread begins to puff, use a slotted spoon to push the portion of the bread where the air bubble is developing into the hot oil several times to help it puff evenly. Turn several times until both sides are pale gold, typically 1 - 2 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Serve immediately or place in warm oven until all are fried.

 

Sopapillas are best fresh, but if you are preparing them ahead of time, cool them, cover and chill or freeze. To reheat baken them in a 300° oven for 5 – 8 minutes, turning once. Do not overheat or the are more like hockey pucks than sopapillas.