My husband and I grew up in North Texas, where there is a Mexican chain restaurant called Panchos. (Maybe it's a national thing, but I've only ever been to the ones in Texas.) Panchos is basically the cheapest buffet you could get yourself into. Sure, the food isn't going to get you a bikini body, but most of it tastes pretty good.
By far the best thing about Panchos is their sopapillas. At the end of your meal, you raise a little flag on your table (which is arguably the greatest marketing strategy of all time) and then a waitress magically appears with sopapillas. Free. Sopapillas.
There really is no downside to sopapillas, as far as I'm concerned. They look like little pillows, and you can fill inside or smother the entire thing in honey and butter and cinnamon. I mean, what's not to like?
Some people don't like that sopapillas are often made with lard, but I figure most good Mexican food is, so I just don't worry about it.
The thing is that I didn't grow up cooking with lard. And, while I wouldn't turn down anything made with it, I do acknowledge that it's probably not something I really want to be cooking with on a regular basis. Therefore, I attempted to make my own sopapillas without lard.
Overall, I am pretty pleased with the result. Oh, but don't be fooled; I didn't use lard, but that doesn't mean these are healthy.
- 1 cup flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp sugar
- 2 tbs melted butter
- 1/4 cup water
- approximately 1-2 cup vegetable oil
Combine the dry ingredients in a medium bowl and make a well in the middle.
Add the wet ingredients to the well of the dry ingredients.
Mix all the ingredients together until the wet and dry elements are well incorporated.
The mixture will be a bit dry, so turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead about 15-20 times. You just want to make sure all the flour gets mixed in.
Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let it sit for 15 minutes.
Once the 15 minutes are up, fill a deep-set frying pan with about 1-2 inches of oil and place it on the stove. Turn the heat to medium-high.
Roll the dough out to about a 2-3 mm thickness. Cut the dough into squares or triangles (size really doesn't matter). Flick some water into the oil to test if it's ready. If the grease sizzles, then it's ready. If it the grease pops, then it might be too hot.
Place your sopapillas into the frying pan. How many you will be able to fit at one time will depend on the size you make them. The sopapillas should start puffing up as soon as you place them in the oil.
Once one side has puffed entirely, go ahead and flip to the other side so that it might puff up as well. You're looking for a golden-brown color on both sides.
After the sopapillas are finished cooking, go ahead and fill or cover them in butter, honey, sugar, cinnamon, etc.