Raise your hand if you’ve ever made churros… I, myself, have wanted to try my hand at making them for a while now. They’re a simple food, basically fried dough rolled in sugar. A Spanish treat, they sounded like just the perfect thing to make for our annual pumpkin carving event. Unfortunately, as I was about to find out, they can also be lethal weapons.
Okay, so here’s the story. I should warn you, if you’re looking for something about my book or about the writing process, you won’t find it in this blog (a nice break, hm?). No, this is about my near-death experience with the churlish churro.
Cue dramatic music…
I’ve had the recipe to make churros for a long time but finally decided to give it a try recently. It was a Saturday and we had planned that day to carve our pumpkins and drink fresh New England apple cider. But, of course, we needed something to snack on. Pumpkin carving is hard work.
So I start making the recipe along with the help of my 3-year-old. He loves anything to do with cooking - he actually starts to salivate when we pass the aisle in the grocery store where they display their cooking utensils (he’s also constantly ‘borrowing’ mine). Anyway, the first part of the recipe is easy. Bring water and salt to a boil, then add flour. Stir it up until you make a ball. While you let it cool, heat up a half-inch of oil. Easy, peasy. I was loving these churros…
Then the problems began. I didn’t have a pastry bag to use to push the dough into the oil, but I did have a frosting decorating tool. So I carefully shoved some dough into the small tube and put on the cap with its handy-dandy plunger. I was set to go! When the oil was hot enough, I pushed on the plunger so that the dough would drop into the oil and begin to fry. Sounds simple, right? Unfortunately, frosting decorating tools are not made for pushing dough. After some heavy-duty shoving and grunting on my part, the front part popped away from the plunger and fell into the oil. Immediately the dough inside began to sizzle and cook while the plastic began to melt. While frantically trying to scoop the mess out with tongs, I thoroughly mangled the plastic part. So much for my frosting decorating tool. Into the garbage it went.
So now what was I supposed to do now? Well, I thought to myself, I could just roll up the dough and put it in the oil. It sounded easier than using a pastry bag. Why didn’t they recommend that in the first place? It was a mystery, but I started the process and soon the little rolls of dough were cooking up quite nicely. My 3-year-old was watching from about two feet away, standing on the little green stool he uses when he helps me in the kitchen. About a minute after I’d put the first churros in, one of them popped, spraying us with hot oil. It was only a little bit but I thought maybe my child should remove himself from the vicinity. He heartily agreed.
Okay, back to work. I had returned to rolling up some more churros when another one popped. More oil spattered about, but I was okay, if slightly singed. I decided to stand a couple feet away while they cooked and continued to roll up more churros.
That’s when the big one hit. One of the churros literally exploded. First I heard a tremendous popping noise (like a firecracker, gunshot or atomic bomb), then felt hot oil spattering the top of my head. "Ow! Ow! Ow!" I cried out in pain. It kinda hurt, you see. I dashed away from the stove to what I hoped was safety. When I turned to see the damage, there was oil EVERYWHERE! Oil on the ceiling, oil on the floor, oil on the cupboards, oil on the door. The churro itself was lying on the floor by the dishwasher, which is about five feet away. There were even bits of churro on the ceiling. My churro had become a deadly missile.
Have you ever tried to clean up oil? It’s not easy. Normally I would’ve started sobbing and cursing and maybe shouting for my husband to help me, but I just went into the bathroom and began to douse my head with cold water. Then I returned to the kitchen, my head dripping - I still had to turn off that burner. I made a few false starts - with some stutter stepping and some bobbing and weaving - but finally I was able to dash up and turn the thing off without slipping in the oil and knocking myself out. Then I slowly proceeded to clean the entire very messy, very slippery mess up.
Pumpkin carving, I decided, would have to be delayed until tomorrow. My children accepted the news gracefully, bless their little souls. Instead of churros, I would have to make chocolate chip muffins. They don’t explode, or at least they haven’t in the past. It turned out to be a good decision, both in the delay and in the muffins, as it was a lovely day on Sunday, even though my head still burned in places.
So where did I go wrong? I have decided that by rolling the dough, I was allowing too much air in the mix, creating air bubbles, which then expanded and popped once heated. I never saw that coming, I tell you.
As I write this, with my head still sore in spots, I sit here thinking…What if I were just reaching in with the tongs to fetch a churro when the explosion happened? I would’ve gotten oil all over my face, maybe even a churro up the nose. Even worse, what if my little boy was still standing on that stool? He would have been terribly burned.
After my little incident, I could have complained and been grumpy for the rest of the day (which is my typical m.o. when something goes wrong), but this time I simply was grateful that it hadn’t been worse. Maybe I’m finally growing up. Or maybe I was still in shock.
My husband, who had been downstairs at the time and hadn’t heard a thing, told me that from now on, if I want anything fried, to stick to Dunkin’ Donuts. He may be right. For now, I must say adios, my churlish churros, and muchas gracias for not taking me down with you.