May 3, 2012
Two historic notes in this particular post! Aren't you all lucky! At least, if you happen to be a history buff like myself. Otherwise, just skip to the recipe at the bottom because it is delicious! Don't let it be marred by boring historical facts if that doesn't interest you!
Molletes actually refers to two separate things. In Spain, Molletes is actually a type of bread that is common in southern regions. It is often toasted along with garlic or olive oil and served straight. They are specific to the region, and the idea of stuffing them with anything is actually a bit of a travesty.
In Mexico however, Molletes are often served as cheap, fast food sandwiches. They are often stuffed with pork belly, bacon, or sausage and then completed with a few finishing ingredients. It's a diverse dish and each version is has some unique differences.
That was historical fact numero uno! Although, it wasn't really historical, more...geographical. Still, the two go hand in hand usually. Onto numero dos!
I made this dish because of Cinco de Mayo. As soon as May 1st rolls around, food bloggers started coming out with various Mexican inspired dishes. As a Canadian however, Cinco de Mayo isn't a celebrated holiday, and (speaking for myself) is relatively unknown. So I got about satisfying my historical needs! Cinco de Mayo is often mistaken as Mexico's Independence Day (which is actually in September). Cinco de Mayo actually celebrates a victory of the Mexican army over the conquesting French Empire under Napoleon III. The Mexicans managed to win this key battle although they had never been expected to. Another case of colonial powers having more strength than thought about. Ah, great historical blunders...
Interestingly enough, Americans celebrate this holiday more profusely than in Mexico. The victory at the Battle of Pueblo by the Mexicans helped stop the supply of weapons and equipment by the French to the Southern Confederacy of the United States (For another year at least). Because of this, the battle between the Mexicans and the French is actually celebrated by Americans.... Who knew!
I chose to make Molletes not because I celebrate Cinco de Mayo, but because Mexican food is beautiful all on it's own. Often it is diminished to tacos, burritos and fajitas, which misleadingly comes across as simple and lacking in flavour. Mexico has a unique and flavourful culinary tradition, and this needs to be explored more often!
Coming home from work at 9:30 at night, I was hungry and in the mood to cook! So I headed out to create this tasty looking dish. My first bite... amazement. It's not a complex meal to cook, but it has some wonderful flavour combinations that all play on the tongue. Sorry about the photos, it's hard to get natural light when it's 10pm! The sandwich is definitely worth a try, and I promise you'll love it!
Bread Rolls - 2
Olive Oil - 1 tbsp (some extra will be used for brushing)
Refried Beans - 1/2 cup
Onion - 1, chopped
Garlic - 2 cloves, minced
Bacon - 2 slices, chopped
Tomato - 1/2, diced
Cumin - 1/2 tsp
Cabbage - 1/4 head, thinly sliced
Pickled Jalapeno Peppers - 2 tbsps, chopped
Olive Oil - 1 tbsp
Cider Vinegar - 3 tbsps
Oregano - 1/4 tsp
Salt and Pepper - a healthy pinch
Start by assembling the salad. Combine the cabbage, jalapeno, olive oil and cider vinegar in a large bowl. Add the oregano, salt and pepper to taste. Give the mixture a couple tosses until well coated, then place in the fridge while the rest of the sandwich is assembled.
Either remove some crumb from inside the rolls, or gently push down to create a small cavity to hold the stuffing. Brush the rolls with olive oil, then toast for about 10-15 minutes or until they are crisp and lightly golden. I did mine while the oven pre-heated to 400F.
Place in beans in a small pan and add about a few tbsps of water to the mix. You want it to form a smooth paste, almost with mayo-like consistency. Stir gently occasionally.
In a skillet, heat the tbsp of olive oil. Add the onion, garlic and bacon chunks and cook until the bacon is cooked and the onions softened. Add the tomatoes, breaking them with the back of a wooden spoon. Stir so this mixture becomes a thick sauce. Add the warmed beans and stir this mixture together. Gradually add the cumin to taste.
Remove the rolls from the oven and fill with the bean and bacon mixture. Top with grated cheese, and close the buns. Place back in the oven and heat until the cheese melts. Remove from the oven and top with the salad mixture. You only need to add a little bit for a little extra zing.