As we near the end of our time at the apron strings of Rick Bayless, I♥CC has selected “What’s in your lunch box?” as our theme of the week. I don’t carry a lunch box very often these days, but this one is similar to one I carried to school back in the…oh, nevermind… These days I scoot home because I live close enough and have an hour for lunch. It’s not unusual for me to toss together a few things left from dinner the previous night, so sopes filled with leftover Beef Short Ribs with Tomatoes, Roasted Poblanos and Herbs (page 278 of Mexico: One Plate at at Time), wouldn’t be a stretch of the imagination.
I’m learning to love sopes. I picked up a package when I visited the local Mexican market the other day and tried them again. I’ve not been quite sure how to prepare them until I recently read one of Rick Bayless’ recipes about sopes. What a fun little masa boat to float goodies onto your plate! The first time I fixed them, I filled them with the a beef and potato filling that was a play off of the Pork and Potatoes taco filling I made a couple weeks back. This time, I created a beef filling adapted from Rick’s Beef Short Ribs with Tomatoes, Roasted Poblanos and Herbs, using beef chuck rather than short ribs. I knew I was going to want filling for various “antojitos” for the rest of the week, and this recipe was perfect for that. Slow cooked beef and roasted poblanos were enough for me, but I swapped out the short ribs (availability) for beef chuck chunks.
Fry the prepared but unfilled sopes in hot oil and fill the center with hot oil to cook as well. Carefully tipping the pan to one side to pool the hot oil just a bit helps. Fill the “well” in the center with a small spoonful of refried beans to act as food-glue, then spoon in your meat mixture, top with a bit of cheese, your favorite salsa, a dollop of sour cream or crema if your heart desires, and perk it all up with a squeeze of fresh lime. Eat either out of hand or with knife and fork.
I didn’t look to Rick for a salsa recipe… I’ve been making fresh salsa for so long, I just reach in the fridge and work with what’s available. Rick’s recipe for Late Summer Salsa Mexicana is pretty darn close to what I do off the top of my head.
While one filled sope is just about enough for lunch, these little boats sail right on toward sunset to greet us at the dinner hour just as well. Add sides of rice and beans, a salad if you like, and you have a full meal that is really filling. We really enjoyed the recipe for the meat (I did everything else the same). We’re very fond of poblano chiles to start with. Mexican food has worked really well for us as we tend to eat Mexican style several times a week. I often cook a pot of some meat on the weekend that will fill in a few nights for us through the week. Kind of pre-planned fast (home-cooked) food! This has a nice, well-rounded flavor without being overly spicy. I’m going to miss that fun pairing of our habits and our chef next month!