This recipe is dedicated to Jessie, my lovely birthday girl. Twenty-one years can sure go by in a heartbeat. When we lived in Oaxaca, Jessie discovered her great love of this rich and indulgent dish when our Venezuelan neighbor taught us how to make it. They are similar to the concept of fried mozzarella sticks, except that rather than being breaded and fried, they’re wrapped in a homemade pasta dough, and of course, fried. Cheese and pasta fried into gooey buttery bliss is delicious, but I think the best part about deditos is making them together as a family. It’s quite labor intensive, so the more hands you can recruit, the better. The trick to these, is making a dough that is firm enough to hold up to frying, and pliable enough to work with. There are many variables that go into the moisture content of the dough. Play it by ear and add liquid a few teaspoons at a time or flour a few tablespoons at a time, till it feels right. Sometimes, cooking needs to be an exact science, and this recipe would be if we all had the same temperatures and humidity in our kitchens and the same suppliers for our ingredients. But we don’t, so, think of it as more art than science, and follow your gut.
1 kilo all-purpose flour
4 TBSP powdered milk
100 g melted butter (not margarine)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 can Corona beer, 410 ml
Oil, for frying
Water, for assembly
1 kilo queso Oaxaca, grated
200 g queso Chihuahua, grated
Grate the cheeses. If you can't find queso Oaxaca or queso Chihuahua, use something that melts well, such as mozzarella. In a large bowl, and with very clean hands, smash the cheese together and form cylinders about 3 inches / 7 cm long, no thicker than your finger. Set them in the freezer while you make your dough.
Blend all the dough ingredients and knead till smooth, by hand or in a stand mixer with the dough hook. It should be pliable, flexible, and easy to work with. If it sticks to your hands, add more flour, and few tablespoons at a time. If it’s too dry and hard to work with, add water, a few tsp at a time. This dough feels very similar to homemade pasta dough.
Once your dough is the right consistency, on a clean surface lightly dusted with flour, roll your dough out very thin, about 2 mm. You want to create a rectangle about 10 inches long. If it’s too hard to work with, you can divide it into two batches. Cut 10 inch x 1 inch strips, and work with one strip at a time, keeping the rest of the dough covered in plastic so that it doesn´t dry out.
Lightly wet the edges of the top side of the strip with water. This will act as glue. Place a piece of the prepared cheese cylinder at one end and roll it up like a mummy. You want to make sure you don’t leave any loose edges where the cheese can escape, taking special care to not leave any holes around the two tips. If you need to patch up any weak spots with extra dough, go for it.
Once all of them are ready, heat a neutral flavored oil such as grape seed, canola or soy to 365°F (185°C) and fry, a few at a time, till golden brown. Enjoy them while they’re hot!