Things have been crazy busy around here. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. October-November is my least favorite stretch of the year. It’s slow, it’s hard and it seems to never end but once it’s over, the school year gets significantly easier and I am able to do normal people things like…
I grew up eating molletes on busy weeknights when my mom wanted to sneak in quick but satisfying meals in between practices and school events. The smell of bolillo loaves crisping in the oven always signaled that one of my favorite dinners was about to emerge from the oven. As soon as the oven timer beeped, we would all crowd around the kitchen to pick our respective loaves. I would always go for the crispiest bolillo. My little sister, Denise—always thinking of others before herself—would immediately snag the biggest. The leftover loaf would go to my mom, of course. Loaves decided, we would then pile on the freshly made ‘pico de guac,’ and take our first bite. So good!
Pico de guac, for the record, isn’t actually a thing. My mom and I simply love to add avocado to everything. Unlike molletes, which are best fresh, pico de gallo is best a couple of hours or even a day old so that the flavors have time to mix together and the tomatoes can release all their juice. If you do decide to add the avocado to your pico de gallo, do so right before serving to avoid brown avocado cubes. The tangy pico de guac is a perfect contrast in temperature and flavor to the fresh baked mollete.
Molletes, pronounced mo-yeh-tes, (remember the double L from high school Spanish?), must be eaten immediately after they are baked. Otherwise, the bread will lose its crisp. I am adamant about the crisp; the crisp of the bolillo and the melty cheese alone win my heart every time.
Molletes are a sort of Mexican open-faced sandwich. They are traditionally made with bolillo bread, a crusty white bread perfect for sandwiches (and for dipping in hot chocolate!) However, because I was making these as appetizers for my friend’s birthday party, I decided to use a baguette instead. Hence, mini molletes!
The concept is simple. Baguette slices slathered with refried beans and topped with melty cheese. Pop them in the oven and out comes crispy, melty deliciousness. As long as you save the pico de guac for right before you eat, you will have a delicious meal/snack.
This recipe calls for chorizo refried beans. Not all molletes have chorizo in them, but this is how my mom cooks them and how I love to eat them. The chorizo adds a smoky flavor to the molletes and I highly recommend adding it to your beans.
A note about chorizo: In my past few years in New England I have purchased a variety of pork products labeled chorizo that turned out to resemble kielbasa or Italian sausage more than authentic chorizo. If possible buy your chorizo from a grocer that carries authentic Mexcian brands. In order to test your chorizo’s authenticity, try cooking a small piece of your chorizo sausage to test what kind of “chorizo” it is. Real chorizo should have a skin casing that needs to be removed, should be fairly mushy or wet in appearance, and should break up into small pieces as it cooks.
The chorizo I bought this time from a Latin American foods grocer labeled “authentic Mexican” was actually more like Italian sausage in consistency. I had to cut it into small pieces before cooking it so that it would better integrate with the beans. If it turns out that you too buy less-than-authentic chorizo, do not despair; your molletes will still be delicious, but you will need to pre-cut the chorizo into smaller pieces to avoid having chunks in your refried beans.
I know- mashing beans is not super attractive, but this is how to get that refried bean texture we all love. You can use a potato masher, but I grew up using cups or mugs with flat bottoms instead. This way you don’t have to keep pushing the beans out of the masher.
Mini Chorizo Molletes
Serves: ~32 pieces
Prep: 15 minutes
Cooking/Baking time: 15 minute
- 1 baguette
- 1 can of black beans
- 1 cup of white melty cheese (Panela, Chihuahua, Quesadilla)
- 1 link of chorizo
- 1 small onion
- 1 clove of garlic
- Salt to taste
Pico de Guac
- 1 large tomato
- 1 onion
- 1/2 jalapeño pepper
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1/2 lime
- 1/2 bunch of cilantro
- 1 avocado
- Chorizo Refried Beans: Dice onion and garlic. Take the chorizo sausage out of its casing and cook it on medium heat until it begins to brown and crumble. Add the onion and garlic. Stir occasionally. When the meat is browned and fully cooked, add the can of beans and mash.
- Baguette: Preheat oven to 350. Cut baguette into half inch slices. Then, use a spoon to make indentations in each slice. Slather a spoonful of the chorizo beans into each indentation. Then, top them with cheese.
- Bake: Load your baguette slices onto a lightly oiled baking sheet and pop them in the oven for 5-8 minutes. I like to keep them in until the cheese begins to blister.
- Pico: While the molletes are baking, dice the onions, tomato, jalapeño, garlic, avocado and cilantro. Add less jalapeño for less heat. Squeeze lime and add salt to taste.
- The end: Once your molletes emerge from the oven add your pico on top and enjoy!