Crispy Potato Sopes with Goat Cheese and Herb Salad

Crispy corn and potato sopes are the perfect vessel any number of recipes. We love this one from Rick Bayless, chef/co-owner of Frontera Grill and Topolobampo in Chicago.

  • Yield: Makes 18 sopes

Source: Martha Stewart Living, September 1999

Ingredients

  • 2 medium baking potatoes (about 1 pound), peeled and cut into large pieces
  • 3/4 teaspoons salt, plus more for potatoes and herbs
  • 8 ounces (1 cup) fresh smooth-ground corn masa for tortillas, or 1 cup dry masa harina mixed with 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm water
  • Vegetable oil 1/2 inch deep, for frying
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 3/4 cup Mixed Tomato Salsa Mixed Tomato Salsa
  • 2 generous cups loosely packed, thinly sliced herb leaves, such as watercress, arugula, or basil
  • 1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese

Directions

  1. In a medium saucepan, boil potatoes in salted water to cover until tender, about 25 minutes. Drain, and cool. Push potatoes through a sieve into a bowl. Scrape potatoes into a 1-cup measuring cup, and discard the rest. Return potatoes to bowl. Knead in the masa or masa harina. Stir in 3/4 teaspoon salt.

  2. Heat a griddle or heavy skillet over medium heat. Divide the dough into 18 balls slightly larger than golf balls, and cover with plastic to keep from drying out. If the balls crack when you are rolling them, knead a few drops of water into the dough to give them the consistency of a soft cookie dough. Cut two sheets of plastic (preferably from heavy-weight food-storage bags) into 6-inch squares.

  3. One by one, form the fat little tortillas that will become the sopes: With your hands, gently press out a ball of the dough between the sheets of plastic into a 2 1/2-inch circle (it should be about 1/4 inch thick). Peel off the top sheet. Use your thumb and first finger to pinch up the dough into a border about 1/2 inch high around the edge to form a little boat. Flip the tortilla -- uncovered side down -- onto the fingers of one hand, then gently peel off the second piece of plastic. In one flowing movement, roll the tortilla off your hand and onto the griddle or skillet. After about 50 seconds, when the tortilla has loosened itself from the cooking surface, remove it from the griddle; this is just to set the surface of the tortilla, not cook the masa all the way through. While the first tortilla is cooking, continue pressing out others and adding them to the griddle or skillet. After cooking, pierce the bottoms with a fork, taking care not to poke them all the way through. Slip the cooled sopes into a plastic bag, or cover them to keep from drying out.

  4. Fill a heavy skillet with 1/2 inch oil; heat oil to 375 degrees. Turn on the oven to its lowest setting, and set out a baking sheet lined with paper towels to drain the sopes. Stir the balsamic vinegar into the salsa, and set out the herbs and crumbled cheese. A few at a time, fry the sopes until they are a rich golden brown, 50 to 60 seconds. Drain them upside down on the paper towels. As the sopes are fried, keep them warm in the oven.

  5. When all of the sopes have been fried, arrange them on a serving platter. Spoon about 1/2 tablespoon salsa into each one, top with a tuft of herbs, and sprinkle generously with cheese. Serve immediately.

Cook's Notes

Ideally, fresh masa makes the best base for a sopes, but it can be difficult to track down and spoils quickly. Dry masa harina mixed with a little warm water is a fine substitute, and there are several brands available in stores.

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