When Paul’s away

… it’s all black beans, all the time. Fortunately he was only gone for 48 hours; otherwise, I might have had some serious digestive issues to deal with …

These are black bean sopes, made from a recipe in James McNair’s Beans and Grains. Essentially, they are round chalupas made from masa (I can’t buy fresh masa here, so reconstituted it from masa harina), fried first in a dry skillet, then shaped and deep-fried. The filling is roughly based on Mexicali beans, though I didn’t plan ahead spice-wise – they came out a bit bland. Then top with salsa, cheese, and sour cream. Tasty, healthy and inexpensive: four servings for about $6 total, and enough beans and masa harina left for another eight.

For the sopes:

1 lb fresh masa [or combine 2 c masa harina and 1 1/3 c water, cover and let stand 30 min for reconstituted masa]
1/4 c all-purpose flour
2 tbsp unsalted butter or lard
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
Knead together until light and fluffy (I didn’t get it as light and fluffy as I should have – though much better than the last time I tried). Divide into 12 walnut-sized balls of dough.

Heat a griddle or skillet. Flatten each ball into a pancake, about 3″ in diameter. Working with one at a time, cook 1st side until slightly browned, about 1 min; flip and cook the 2nd side until just set, about 30 sec.

Flip, less-cooked side up, onto a plate. While it’s still hot, with your fingers, pinch the edges to make a “rim”. (If it’s too hot, dip your fingers in cold water first.) Set aside. Repeat these steps for all 12 sopes. At this point, they can be tightly covered and refrigerated up to 2 days.

Prepare the beans (he recommends Mexicali or Southwestern-Style beans, both recipes in the book) and salsa. Just before serving, preheat oven to 250F. Heat about 1″ of oil in a skillet, until a piece of bread dropped into it turns golden brown in 30 sec. Working with 1-3 at a time (depending on the size of the skillet), fry each in the oil until lightly brown and crispy, about 1-2 min. Remove and place on a rack over a baking sheet in the oven, to keep warm.

To serve, fill each with ~2tbsp beans, top with queso fresco (or farmer cheese) and salsa. Mmmmm. I didn’t have queso fresco, so used shredded jack and sour cream.

These will be added to my Football-season repertoire. Only with any-kind-but-black beans, since Paul can’t stand them. Which is why I gorge on them when he’s away, of course.

I can’t recommend McNair’s book highly enough. I bought it in the late 90s, when I was on a bean kick (and the healthiest I’ve ever been – must get back to eating more beans and grains). It’s got information on about every kind of bean and grain I’d ever heard of, and more besides. Want to know how to prepare quinoa, teff, hato mugi, amaranth? It’s in there. Along with recipes for combinations – Tomatoes stuffed with millet and lentils; hoppin’ john; bean and barley “risotto”, using barley instead of rice. Excellent stuff.

I’ve started a new knitting project – Irish Moss from Aran Knitting, using the brown lambswool I’ve been spinning up two-ply. I don’t particularly need another wool pullover. In fact, I’d been thinking of a cardigan for this yarn. Maybe I’ll rework the front, make this a cardi instead. The yarn is dark brown, but still showing the texture of the stitches.

One Comment

  1. Wendy
    July 28, 2007 13:04

    This looks like a great recipe! My son and I are vegetarian, and we both love black beans. We’ll make them tonight! Thanks so much for sharing the recipe.
    Cheers from Vancouver Island! Wendy