Chef Rick Bayless, Topolombampo & Frontera Grill, Chicago, IL.
Churros - Crunchy Fluted Fritters

Adapted from Mexico One Plate at a Time, by Rick Bayless.

Yield: 12-14 five-inch churros, or more, depending on the size of the tip

These long, golden beauties are my weakness-but, thankfully, only when they're warm. Which isn't the way you always find them.   -Chef Rick Bayless

2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 Tablespoon sugar, plus 2/3 cup to roll the churros in Salt
1 cup (4 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
Vegetable oil to a depth of 1 inch for frying
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, preferably freshly ground Mexican canela (optional)

For the dough, in a medium-small (2-quart) saucepan, combine the oil, 1 tablespoon sugar and 1/2 teaspoon salt with 1 cup water. Set over high heat and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and add the flour all at once, stirring vigorously until the mixture forms a thick, smooth-textured ball. Let cool in the pan.

To fry the churros, spread the 3/3 cup sugar over the bottom of a baking pan and mix in the optional cinnamon. When you're ready to eat the churros, heat the oil in a large pan (my preference for ease and consistency of temperature is a heavy pan or cast-iron skillet that's about 9 inches across and 3 inches deep) over medium to medium-high to about 375F (the oil will shimmer on the surface and give off that characteristic hot oil aroma).

Scoop the dough into a churrera, a cookie press fitted with a 3/8-inch fluted opening or a heavy-duty (canvas-type) pastry bag fitted with a 3/8-inch star tip. Holding your pressing apparatus a few inches above the hot oil, press out a 5-inch length of dough (the end will dangle into the oil), then pull it free from the press with your fingertips. Cook this one churro, turning occasionally, until it is deep golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes if the oil temperature is right. Remove it to drain on paper towels and let it cool a minute, then break it open to check for doneness-it should be just a little soft inside, but not too doughy. Too low an oil temperature, and the churros will take a long time to color, usually bursting apart before they're brown; too high a temperature, and they'll brown quickly but not cook enough. Adjust the temperature if necessary, then press out and fry the churros 4 or 5 at a time, draining each batch on paper towels. Roll the churros luxuriously in the sugar mixture while they are still warm. They're ready to enjoy.

Note: The churro dough can be prepared up to several hours before frying; cover it and leave at room temperature. If you can't fry the churros just before eating, warm them for 3 or 4 minutes in a 350F oven, but always serve them warm.

Variation: Add cup (1 ounce) finely ground pecans and teaspoon very finely chopped lime zest (colored rind only) to the dough along with the flour.