Directions Place the masa harina in a bowl. Gradually add the water, mixing it in with your fingers, until the flour and water have formed a thick (but not soggy) paste.
Heat a skillet or flat griddle to medium-high.
With damp hands, scoop up a small amount of the masa mixture and roll it between your palms into a ball.
Carefully flatten the ball into a disk about 1/4 to 1/2 inches thick; the edges will crack, but just press them back together with your fingertips. (Feel free to use a tortilla press instead if you like, but don’t press the paste too thin.)
Find a glass, or an object with a smaller diameter than the dough patties. The idea is to press the object into the sopes dough to flatten the center more while creating a raised edge. Do this through the parchment paper to prevent sticking.
Place the flattened tortilla on the griddle. Repeat until the griddle is full.
When the undersides of the tortillas start to darken, flip them and place slices, gratings, or crumblings of the cheese on top. When the cheese has melted (you may need to put a lid over the skillet or griddle to encourage melting), remove the tortillas to serving plates.
Dollop each cheese-covered tortilla with a spoonful of warm beans, followed by salsa, guacamole, and cilantro.
Turn this dish into a vegan meal by skipping the cheese.
Refried Beans: Frijoles Refritos:
About 1/3 cup lard, melted 1 heated tablespoon finely chopped white onion 3 1/2 cups cooked pinto beans in their broth Heat the lard in a heavy 10-inch skillet, add the onion and fry over medium heat without browning, until translucent, about 30 seconds. Gradually add the beans and their broth and continue cooking over fairly high heat, mashing them down to a paste texture, about 10 minutes.
Yield: 3 cups Prep Time: 5 minutes Cook Time: 10 minutes Ease of preparation: easy Chorizo and Potato Filling: Chorizo y Papa:
Approximately 1 tablespoon lard or vegetable oil 1 Mexican chorizo, about 3 ounces 6 ounces waxy new potatoes, diced and cooked al dente, about 1 rounded cup 1 chipotle in adobo, chopped Sea salt Melt the lard in a small skillet. Skin and crumble the chorizo, add to the pan, and cook over low heat until the fat has been rendered out. Add the potatoes and chile, if using, and continue cooking over medium heat, scraping the bottom of the skillet from time to time to avoid sticking, until well seasoned, about 8 minutes. Season with salt. Set aside to cool a little before using.
Yield: 1 cup Salsa de Jitomate:
garlic cloves 4 serrano chiles, asado, and roughly chopped, technique follows Sea salt 1 pound tomatoes, asado, technique follows About 1/3 cup finely chopped white onion About 1/3 roughly chopped cilantro leaves Crush or blend the garlic, chiles and salt to a paste. Gradually add the tomatoes (unpeeled), grinding well after each addition. The sauce should be texture and the skin will never all completely disappear.
Sprinkle the top with the onion and cilantro and serve.
Yield: 2 cups Chiles Asado:
Place the whole chilies on an ungreased griddle over medium heat and turn them from time to time until the flesh is fairly soft; there will be brownish patches on the skin and the color will have faded somewhat. Then, if they are to be ground with other ingredients, chop roughly before blending. Note well: they are to be neither peeled nor seeded.
The whole tomatoes are cooked on a ungreased comal or griddle until they are slightly charred and mushy to guarantee a specially delicious table or cooked sauce. About half the cooks I know then skin the tomatoes, while others – including me – blend them unskinned. While the appearance of the sauce may not be as attractive, the flavor and texture are incomparable. This method of cooking tomatoes is particularly recommended for freezing and storing for the months when tomatoes are not at their best (not a problem in Mexico).
You may want to broil them in a more practical way. Choose a shallow pan in which the tomatoes will just fit in 1 layer – not too large or the juice that exuded will dry up. (I used to line the pan with foil, but no longer. It is high time that we gradually ease foil out of the kitchen or use it very, very sparingly. The mining of bauxite for the production of aluminum has destroyed far too many tropical forests on this planet.) Place the pan about 2 inches below a heated broiler and broil until the top halves of the tomatoes are soft and the skin is blistered and slightly browned. Turn the tomatoes over and repeat on the other side. The exuded juice will be sweet and syrupy so save it to blend with the tomatoes.