If you haven’t made that big pot of black beans, you’ll want to soon. They are the base for the refried beans in molletes (a Mexican antojito/snack) and other recipes coming up.
Nearly two decades ago I made my first trip to Mexico – I lived with a family in Cuernavaca and traveled around central and southern Mexico. Some of the places I visited were D.F. (Districto Federal aka Mexico City), Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca, Puebla, Taxco and so many pueblitos I can’t remember their names.
This trip has a very special place in my heart since it was the first time I packed my bags to venture alone in a new country. But, more significant was that it was my first trip to my Motherland and an amazing personal journey – with much familiarity and even more that was new.
I have vivid food memories from this first extended stay, like the tacos de flor de callabaza I bought trail-side after finishing a hike near some steep ruins where the locals frequented; the just-caught, fried fish served with nopales on a remote beach near Puerto Escondido; the mole in Puebla; and the amazing mercado in Oaxaca. Also on this list are molletes (pronounced mo -YEY -tes). Refried black beans and melted cheese on crusty bread, topped with fresh pico de gallo.
This open sandwich quickly became a favorite. At the time, I was on a budget and molletes were a great anytime meal that was both good and cheap. I think I paid the equivalent of 50 cents or a dollar for two halfs when eating out. Two pieces is a full meal for this chica.
Nearly every time I’ve had them in Mexico, they’ve been served with black beans, although pinto beans are also used. Most of my travels so far have been to central and southern Mexico, and the Yucatan – places where black beans are preferred
To make molletes, you can use my Cuban black bean recipe (no, it’s not sacrilege) or your favorite home-made black or pinto beans. You can also use canned beans; but, if you do, buy the beans whole and make your own refried beans, they’ll taste much better.
Molletes are not fancy food but you’ll be glad to have this recipe in your arsenal of quick to make meals for breakfast, lunch, dinner or snacks. As I write this, I’m thinking one of these topped with bacon would be a Mexican BLT.
Molletes – Mexican Refried Bean Open Sandwich
Refried Black Beans
If you prefer refried beans with some texture rather than thin/runny pastes, do not over mash them. Leave about 1/3 of the beans somewhat in tact.
2 cups home-made black beans or 1 can* whole beans (drain, reserve liquid)
1 1/2 tablespoons oil/lard/bacon grease
1/4 cup finely chopped onion (if using canned beans)
1 small clove fresh garlic minced (if using canned beans)
- Heat oil/lard in a heavy skillet over medium heat. (*If using canned beans, saute the onion and minced garlic for about 1 minute.)
- When the oil is hot, add the drained beans to the skillet and “fry” them for about 3 – 5 minutes to heat slowly throughout. Stir occasionally. Beans should not be dry or too thick at this point; add some of the reserved liquid by the ¼ cup to thin. Mash beans with the back of a wooden spoon or a potato masher. Keep stirring, mashing and adding liquid until you the beans are the consistency of soft mashed potatoes. Adjust seasoning.
2 bollilos, teleras or other crusty bread
1 cup shredded white cheese
Fresh pico de gallo
- Preheat broiler. Cut the rolls lengthwise, place on a baking sheet and broil until lightly golden, about 3 minutes – watch carefully.
- Spread each half of the rolls with about 1/2 cup of the refried beans. Top with shredded cheese. Return to the oven and broil until the cheese is melted.
- Transfer the rolls to a serving tray or plate. Serve with a side of fresh pico de gallo and your favorite toppings.
Beans: Black, pinto or your favorite legumes
Cheese: Chihuahua , Mexican Manchego, queso fresco, monterrey jack, cheddar, etc.