Mexican sopes are a truly tasty appetizer, although we could easily make a whole meal out of these little beauties. Masa cups get filled with slow-cooked pork, queso, and pico de gallo for an explosion of fresh and mildly spiced flavors.
Sopes are traditional Mexican appetizers made from fresh masa or masa harina, the same dough or corn flour used in making tortillas. Shaped into small boats, they are filled with meats, cheeses, or salsa and are the ideal complement to a fine añejo tequila.–Karl Petzke
For the sopes
- 1 1/2 cups masa harina
- 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup nonhydrogenated vegetable shortening or lard
- About 3/4 cup warm water
For the slow-cooked pork with lime, tequila, and chile
- 1 cup blanco tequila
- 1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
- 2 teaspoons grated lime zest
- Juice of 2 limes
- 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons powdered chile
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 cloves garlic coarsely chopped
- One 3-pound boneless pork shoulder
For the fillings
- 1 cup slow-cooked pork with lime, tequila, and chile
- 1/2 cup pico de gallo salsa
- 1/2 cup crumbled queso fresco or feta cheese
- Sour cream as needed
- 1 large red radish thinly sliced
Make the sopes
- Preheat to oven to 375°F (190°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, stir the masa harina, baking powder. And salt together. Add the shortening and blend with a pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Gradually add the warm water until the mixture has a soft dough consistency.
- Knead for a minute or so, then form into balls about the size of a small walnut, about 1 1/2 tablespoons per ball. Form the balls into small cup shapes. They don’t need to be perfect, as long as there are no holes in them. The thinner the walls and base of the cups are, the more delicate the end result will be.
- Transfer the cups to the prepared sheet and bake for 30 minutes, or just until the edges start to brown.
Make the pork
- In a large glass or other nonreactive bowl, combine all the ingredients except the pork. Stir to dissolve the salt, then place the pork in the bowl and turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, turning the pork occasionally.
- Preheat the oven to 225°F (107°C). Adjust a rack in the center of the oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Remove the pork from the marinade and discard the marinade. Pat the pork dry and place on the prepared pan. Bake for about 8 hours, or until the meat is fork-tender. Remove from the oven and let cool for about 20 minutes. The pork will have shrunk considerably.
- To serve, simply pull it apart and chop into chunks. Let any leftovers cool completely, cover, and refrigerate for up to 5 days.
- Fill the cups with any combination of the fillings, garnish with sour cream and radish slices, and serve at once.
Originally published July 13, 2009