Everyone should have the pleasure of eating a fresh-from-the-fryer buñuelo at least once in their life. Luckily this is an easy thing to cross off your bucket list as Mekato's makes fresh buñuelos every single morning between 7:30 and 8am. If you score a fresh buñuelo, the first thing you may notice is its heft. This is one serious baseball-sized piece of fried dough. But once you break into the chewy, cheesy crust, you're rewarded with an airy, steaming interior that's similar to the moist deliciousness that is the inside of a freshly-baked baguette.
The dry ingredients in a buñuelo include white flour, tapioca flour, baking powder, corn starch, a touch of sugar, and a proprietary blend of five different kinds of cheese. All of the dry ingredients are added one on top of the other to one side of an old-school balance scale.
What gives the buñuelos their distinctive savory flavor: a blend of five different cheeses.
The dry ingredients are poured into a large mixer with eggs and a little water. A few minutes of mixing and out comes a smooth, pale dough. This recipe was passed down from a Colombian baker who worked at Mekato's when it first opened and who has since retired.
Portioning the Dough
Dough is portioned by hand and then given a quick roll into a round ball before getting dropped into the fryer.
The ball of dough will nearly double in size after several minutes in the fryer.
During the holiday season—especially December—John said they make thousands of buñuelos a day. His baker will spend almost the entire day at the fyer so it's clear that he's a pro. As he drops a ball of dough into the oil with one hand, the other is already portioning out the next ball.
Oil Temperature is Key
John explained that the oil needs to be at a very exact temperature to produce a great buñuelo. If the oil is at the correct temperature, a ball of buñuelo dough will rotate itself as it cooks with almost no turning necessary on the part of the maker.
In order to get through the massive portion of dough quickly, partially cooked buñuelos are moved into another fryer to finish cooking in order to free up space in the first fryer for more dough.
Pile o' Bunuelos
The buñuelos are pulled out when they reach just the right golden brown color. John explained that many things can go wrong in the production process; if the wrong cheeses are used, if not enough cheese is used, if the recipe is a little off, or if the oil is the wrong temperature the buñuelos can come out greasy or misshapen or may just not taste right.
Steamy and Chewy
John cracked open (and yes, the crust is so substantial, you literally crack into one) a fresh buñuelo to show me the steamy, moist interior. This girl has never had anything quite like it with its pleasantly chewy and crispy crust that contrasts well with a light cheesy interior.