Sopes are small, round, tartlet-like cakes made with masa harina, the flour used to prepare corn tortillas. A sope can be filled with anything from meat, beans, salsa, cheese or a combination of these. My simple recipe is filled with beans, roasted chiles, and topped with queso fresco and cilantro. Growing up we called them chalupitas, or “little boats”. These are great appetizers for any party. Impress all your amigos on Super Bowl Sunday with these delicious starters. Try to prepare the sopes ahead of time and then on game day all you have to do is fill and bake. Some Mexican grocery stores even sell sopes premade with about 6-8 in a package. If you’re in a pinch you can always cheat and buy some at a Mexican grocer near you.
This appetizer goes perfectly with a Michelada.
- Combine the two cups of masa harina, salt, and water. Stir until mixture is smooth and slightly sticky. Add 1 tablespoon of water at a time, if needed. Dough should be soft like play-doh and not dry.
- Divide masa mixture into 8-16 portions (depending on desired size). Cover with a damp cloth to keep the dough soft and moist. I like keeping mine in the same bowl I mixed the dough.
- Line your tortilla press with plastic wrap. Place each ball between the plastic wrap and press down to form a little ½” patty. Peel off the plastic wrap. If you don’t have a handy dandy IMUSA tortilla press you can use a heavy skillet or pot to make the dough circles. Or use your hands to form a patty.
- Preheat an ungreased griddle or IMUSA comal on medium-high heat. Cook each sope on the comal for about 2-4 minutes on each side until dry. Repeat with the remaining sopes.
- To form the sopes you will need to work quickly while each sope is warm off the comal.
- Take each sope and working from the center outward, pull the warm dough pinching up the edge of the round to make a ridge. You may need to dig into the dough because it has cooked a bit. You will do this all the way around until you create a little boat.
- Set each one aside until you are ready to fill.
- Fire up a comal on the stovetop. Rinse the chile peppers thoroughly and pierce each chile with a knife. Place the chiles on the comal and let them roast evenly. You will have to keep an eye on them, making sure to turn them over until all sides are roasted. When done, the chile pepper skins should be evenly blistered and mostly black.
- Place roasted peppers into a plastic bag and close the bag. Cover the plastic bag with a kitchen towel. The steam will help the blackened skin and chile to separate. When cool, rub off the blackened skin and discard the seeds and stems.
- Slice the chile to desired length for filling your sopes.
Filling the Sopes:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Fill each sope with beans and chile. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with queso fresco, cilantro, and garnish with avocado slices (optional).
- If you prepare the sopes ahead of time, see the notes below for heating and filling your sopes.
To Make Ahead:
- Cook sopes as directed. Place cooled shells in a single layer in an airtight container, cover and seal. Sopes can be stored for one week in the fridge or in the freezer for one month.
- Arrange premade or thawed shells in a single layer on a baking sheet; fill with warm beans and chile. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until warm. Sprinkle with queso fresco, cilantro, and garnish with avocado slices (optional).
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Photography by Jeanine Thurston
Pottery by Cherie Mahon available at firstname.lastname@example.org and in the Santa Fe Art District at CoArt