Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Ancient Family Secret Reworked:
Back to the Roots with a New Twist
Sopapilla "Indian" Tacos

Quite a while back I posted my family's "ancient family secret" dinner recipe.  Only, I learned afterward that it was not so secret, after all.  Many families around, from southern Canada to northern Mexico, have a very similar recipe, Native American roots or not.  My family serves the recipe over Fritos corn chips.  I have to say, I absolutely LOVE this family tradition, but I wanted to take it back to its roots, back to the old days, but, with a new twist.  Here is how I took this family favorite both ways.  

1 pound lean ground beef
1 red onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup your favorite taco cheeses
1 cup roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 cup arugula
1 8 oz can rinsed black beans
1 serrano chile, ribbed, seeded and finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon pasilla powder
1 teaspoon chipotle powder
1 tablespoon dried oregano 
1 package fresh pizza dough cut into fourths
2 cups canola or vegetable oil
Ranchero Sauce or your favorite taco sauce

In a large skillet (I used my cast iron skillet like my Grandma P would use) I added two tablespoons of canola oil over medium-high heat.  When the oil rippled, I added the ground beef, salt and pepper, pinch of each.  I broke up the ground beef and let it cook about half way before I added the onions and garlic.  I allowed the onions to saute until just translucent.  At that point, I added the chile and allowed it to saute three minutes with the beefy mixture.  I added the spices, including the oregano and allowed it to saute for five minutes before adding the rinsed black beans, and incorporated well.  I reduced the heat to low and allowed the incredible flavors to marry.  

In a high-sided sauce pan, I added two cups of vegetable oil over high heat.  I dusted a large cutting board with flour.  I removed a ball of fresh, room temperature pizza dough and cut in to fourths.  I rolled each cut into a ball and set three of them aside.  I worked each dough ball into circles, which, when you really look at my photos, actually turned out to be more like a triangle rather than a small circle.  Some I was able to form using my fingers (the best method) but one I had to roll out with my rolling pin.  It is easier to use the rolling pin, but not authentic.  I'd rather put in more effort and be at least partially authentic than not at all.  But, one of those unruly dough balls defeated me.  So, I pinned it. When the oil reaches 350 degrees, add one of the sopapillas (the dough disc) and fry it until golden brown.  When done, remove, shake off the extra oil, place it on a plate or platter with paper towels, or, on a cooling rack, and sprinkle lightly with salt.  Cover to keep warm.  You could also place it in the oven at 200 degrees to keep it warm.  

When you have finished frying the sopapillas, take one, plate it and add arugula atop the bread.  Sprinkle with cheese, top that with a hearty large spoon full of the beefy bean mixture and top that with cheese, cilantro and Ranchero sauce.  Perhaps top with a little more arugula.  Add the chopped tomatoes and you have a fantastic meal at your finger tips.  Caution!  You  may not be able to stop at Just one!  And there is more.........

Sopapillas have, traditionally, in my family, been more of a dessert bread.  We have topped it with honey and powdered sugar, and in much later days, strawberries and honey and powdered sugar. It has evolved a bit.  I will be honest with you, however, and let you know that The Best sopapillas I have ever had were on the Pima-Maricopa and the Tohono O'Odham reservations in Arizona. The Best.  Go to their tribal museums and fairs and try it some time.  They will also have my "ancient family secret", in addition to sopapillas.  

Traditionally, deer, elk or bison meat was and Is used for these awesome fry bread meals.  Deer meat is cooked in underground ovens for many hours and served shredded.  So delicious!