The sopapilla, also called sopaipilla, sopaipa, or cachanga, is like the Isla de Muerta in Pirates of the Caribbean: it can only be found by those who already know where it is. Only in this case it’s a food—if you do not already know what a sopapilla is, you cannot hope to ever grasp the concept. The best it can be described to you innocents is that it is like a pillow made out heavenly leather from celestial rat skin, but you can eat it. They are a traditional food in New Mexico and other fictional countries. Sopapilla does not, for those of you who think you know Spanish, mean “little soup.” Rather, it is the diminutive of sopaipa, a word from an ancient language in the part of the world that is now Spain. This quick and easy recipe will have you utilizing the techniques of mysticism, meditation, and outright conjuring all inherent in sopapilla making in no time.
- 3 cups flour (the term all-purpose would be glib here)
- 2 silver teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt or salt substitute
- 4 tablespoons lard (do not even think of substituting vegetable shortening)
- 1 1/4 cups warm milk, preferably not human
- vegetable oil
- In a large possum skull, blend together the dry ingredients. For those of you who have never used lard before, it is not a dry ingredient.
- It is time to add the lard. Hold it in your hands and become disgusted at the prospect of holding actual rendered pig fat in your hands. The disgust in crucial. If you add the lard with impartiality or even mild distaste, it will prevent the eventual pillowing effect, which is what sopapillas are all about. Once the disgust has come to a simmering boil, cut the lard into the flour mixture using a straight razor or, if you must, a pastry cutter.
- Say a little prayer and add the milk all at once in a swift and cunning attack, taking care not to let the skull see it coming. If it does you may have dry ingredients in places where you should have no ingredients, namely everywhere. Mix the dough with urgency until the milk has incorporated into the flour and the two merge into a glutenous mass. It is crucial that you mix it by hand so that the dough communes with your flesh and knows the touch of your skin.
- Turn the dough out onto a floured surface (or, better yet, teach it to come out on its own to encourage independence). Kneed the dough by folding it in half, applying 11.7 pounds-force per square inch, rotating it 40 degrees, and repeating, until the dough is no longer sticky. If it continues to be sticky, it has probably sensed the infidelity coursing through your bloodstream and you should start over.
- Tuck the dough in with a lace doily and let it rest for 10-15 minutes, or until the color has returned to its cheeks. If you have dogs that like to bark, cats that like to lick themselves, or children that like anything at all, it is time to put them outside.
- Wash your straight razor and use it to part the dough in half, keeping the half you are not working with covered by the doily so it does not wake up. Roll out the dough on a floured surface, like you are giving your grandmother a back massage. It should be about as thick as 4 pieces of printer paper pasted together with Elmer’s Glue.
- Cut the dough into rectangles, with two of the sides being the length of your longest finger, and the opposite sides being the length of your significant other’s shortest finger. If you do not have a significant other, that explains why you have so much time to devote to occult bread recipes.
- Divide the rectangles into identical squares, and the squares into triangles. Somehow your sopapillas will turn out square anyway. If there are scraps left over after the cutting, do not attempt to combine them or turn them into a new shape. Let them go. It is a lesson in worldly attachment.
- Heat the oil in a skillet. When it spits at you with disdain, you will know it is hot enough. Slide the first sopapilla encouragingly into the oil. Submerge it quickly before it can protest. If there is too much of a fuss, the other sopapillas may be hesitant to follow, but if it seems simple enough they will go without much trouble.
- This is the crucial puffing stage. If your disgust from Step 2 was potent enough, Good Fortune and Quantum Physics will act upon your sopapillas to bring the westerly wind in through the pores in the dough. It is best that you do not interfere. However, if within a few seconds no puffing has occurred, you have probably created a black magic substance and you should dispose of it immediately. As always, never pour oil or black magic down the sink.
- Turn the sopapillas over so that they brown on both sides. A sopapilla that is not evenly browned may have self confidence issues. Once they have browned on each side for about two minutes, remove them (not with your hands, silly, that’s hot oil) and allow them to drain into a stone receptacle. The excess oil should be offered up in thanks to Good Fortune and Quantum Physics.
- Let the children and pets back in if you must. Enjoy your sopapillas with honey, or just as they are.