A lightly toasted roll (bolillo is the proper word) smothered with refried beans, melted cheese and fresh pico. What could be better? These little vessels of deliciousness have all the makings of a perfect comfort food. Traditionally, they are prepared as a breakfast food in Mexico, but trust me, you will do well to make them for lunch, dinner and everything in between. If you’re fortunate enough to have HEB nearby, you will find fresh baked bolillos for 20 cents a piece. Mexican bakeries should also be a safe bet and worth the trip. This bread alone is perfection. If you don’t have access to the real deal, a hoagie-like variety will do the trick. It’s also an easy and inexpensive meal to prepare in large quantities so if you ever have a horde of people to feed, you’ll thank me for this. I recently made a little over a dozen of these suckers for a group of 5 hungry landscapers who were working on our property. It took about 15 minutes for them to clear the tray. When I asked my husband if he thought I made enough he said “It’s not like you could ever make enough.” Need I say more?
Quantities will vary depending on how many mouths you’re wanting to feed but calculate two molletes per person.
6 Bolillos or white subway sandwich type rolls (because this is not the time to worry about whole grains, people)
1 lb shredded monterrey jack or mozzarella cheese
2 14oz cans whole black beans
5 ripe roma or plum tomatoes
2 green serrano (or jalapeno) peppers
1/3 cup of cilantro
1/2 white onion
You can prep the pico and refried beans ahead of time and keep refrigerated. Pico will stay beautiful if refrigerated up to an hour but will remain fresh and perfectly edible for up to a day in advance.
In a skillet, over medium high heat, heat 2 tbsp olive oil
Drain most of the water from your cans of beans and add them to your skillet
With a potato masher, mash your beans until they resemble chunky peanut butter and are easy to spread
Add salt to taste, turn of heat and set aside or refrigerate for later
Pico de Gallo:
Chop tomatoes, onion, serranos and cilantro and add to medium bowl
Add the juice of one lime
Add 1/4 tsp salt and mix all ingredients together
Add more salt to taste
Refrigerate until you are ready to serve
Slice the bolillos in half with a serrated knife (so as not to damage the precious insides)
Dig out a small portion of bread from each half and line them up on a foil-lined baking sheet (Leave about a 1/2 inch of bread on each one)
Bake them for 2-3 minutes — just enough time to ever so slightly toast the bread — and remove from oven
Using a spatula, spread about 1/4 cup of beans onto each bolillo half
Lovingly sprinkle a handful of shredded cheese on each one and return to the oven for 4-5 minutes or until the cheese is melted and is slightly golden…
That’s it! Ring the dinner bell and let everyone add pico to their dish as desired. If it’s an informal gathering or you’re serving them outside you don’t even need plates. Just hand out some napkins and the mollete will hold everything in place!
What are some comfort foods you remember from your childhood? Do you still make them or have you modified them in any way? I’d love to hear about it!