Because the first thing I think about when I approach any holiday is what can I eat to commemorate this? We’re spending much of this week in our house celebrating Mexican Independence (which is Thursday) through food. Mexican Independence is a very important holiday to me. Living where I do, you never hear anything about it because most of the people here think May 5th is Mexican Independence. I had a hearty argument with an old guy once who kept insisting I was wrong about Independence day. “It’s May 5th!” he proclaimed over and over again. I finally just yelled “look at me, man! I’m brown! I’m a Mexican! Do you think I wouldn’t know my own heritage’s important holidays?” He shut up after that and each time I’ve seen him around town since he gives me the evil eye. No matter though because I’m right and he’s not so he can just go sit on a tack. Either way, I celebrate quietly with my Mexican records and some good, hearty meals and I’m totally fine with that. Except I do miss the goings-on in San Antonio. The Diez y Seis activities at Market Square hold many lovely memories for me, the endless rows of food booths and old women patting out sopes and gorditas stand out especially. My family gorged ourselves on them one year and had a spectacular time.
So my grocery store is currently carrying flank steak, which is as close as I’m going to get to my beloved skirt steak without having to travel too far. I’ve still got skirt steak in my freezer, but I get kind of stingy with it since I want it to last a really long time. I pulled this recipe for Pepitos (basically these are just hot sandwiches) out of this book and thought it was really homey and tasty. Plus you get to eat it messily with your hands and some days I’m all about that kind of mealtime fun.
Pepitos on Bolillos
recipe by Melissa Guerra
2 bolillos (use this recipe)
enough skirt or flank steak for two sandwiches
a couple of smashed garlic cloves
half a large onion, sliced thinly
2 serranos or jalapenos, cut in half, deseeded
a large poblano pepper, cut in half, innards removed
Mexican crema, or if you can’t get it, do like I did and just thin some sour cream with lime juice
Season your beef with salt, pepper, and cumin. Place it in a bag with the crushed garlic cloves and fresh squeezed lime juice. Pop the bag in the fridge and let it hang out for a couple of hours. Take the bag out of the fridge and let it come to room temp while you get your grill started. Drizzle some olive oil over the jalapenos and poblanos. Place the onion slices in a packet of foil and drizzle some oil over them too. Put everything on your grill and cook your steak until it’s done how you like (medium to rare in our house), grill the jalapenos and poblanos until they’re nice and charry. Grill the onions in their foil packet until they’ve softened up. When the meat has cooked up how you like it, place it on a large cutting board and let it rest about 10-15 minutes. Slice the beef against the grain into strips. Slice up your jalapenos and poblanos. Warm your bolillos, then cut them in half. Stuff the rolls with sliced beef, the strips of peppers, the onions, some chopped cilantro, and a drizzle of crema, or your thinned sour cream. I served our pepitos with a bowl of bean sopa, which is comprised of whole, cooked pinto beans cooked in some of their liquid and some beer, along with minced garlic, diced white onion, diced tomatoes, salt, pepper, and cilantro.
I use the word “homey” or “hearty”to describe certain foods and really I mean that it just feels good to eat those foods. This is one of those dishes.
Cooking Music: Lola Beltran, Live at the Palacio de Bellas Artes