It seems one of the crueler twists of fate and knife that two festivities to which food holds particular significance should share the same calendar square. Most of us recognize the 5th of May as the Mexican holiday called Cinco de Mayo, which celebrates Mexico’s victory over the French army in the 1862 Battle of Puebla.
The 5th of May is also National Hoagie Day.
On first learning this some years ago, my initial reaction was one of mild despair. Any person born on a traditional gift-giving holiday like Christmas or Valentine’s Day can attest to it not being all it’s cracked up to be. While a listener’s first mental association might be “Sweet! Double the gifts!” those fortunate ones born on those dates know it doesn’t always go down that way. Sometimes no alterations are made, save for the hyphenation of the gift’s modifier, so that instead of receiving one birthday gift and one Christmas gift, they get a single Christmas-birthday gift. And gratitude notwithstanding, many will not admit that a little piece of their soul dies at the feet of that unsolicited hybridization that some would argue diminishes both the occasions that inspired the gift in the first place.
I used to harbor similar feelings toward May 5th and the two holidays that share it. I used to feel compelled to choose between them, my observance alternating each year. But I’m older now, and lack the energy for such interchanges. The time has come for these two occasions to play nicely together in the Flavorful World kitchen. And so, I give you my Cinco de Mayo Roasted Pork Bolillo.
Caveat #1: This is one you’ll want to plan ahead for. The roasting of the pork is done at very low heat, so this all-important first step can take quite a while, but the tenderness and flavor it yields is worth the extra time.
Caveat #2: I admit to having created no original recipe for the steamed corn pudding called tomalito. Because RazzleDazzleRecipes.com offers up the best one I’ve found (sourced from Chevy’s Fresh Mex restaurant), that’s the one I tend to use, although others are plentiful on the web. Simply find your favorite one online using search term “tomalito,” hold it close to you, and don’t ever let it go.
- 1 pork shoulder
- 16 oz. manchego cheese
- 4-6 bolillos (Mexican bread)
- 2 tbsp minced garlic
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- Sweet corn tomalito
- Rub pork shoulder with salt, pepper, and garlic. Cook uncovered in oven at 225 degrees until meat’s internal temperature reaches 190-195 degrees. (Because this can take anywhere from 8 to 10 hours, I’ll often place the meat in oven right before going to bed, so that it is finished by the time I awaken in the a.m.) After cooking, allow shoulder to rest for 20-30 minutes before slicing.
- Slice bolillo lengthwise. Layer one side of halved bolillo with sliced manchego cheese and warm bolillo in 350-degree oven or toaster oven until cheese begins to melt.
- Remove bolillo from oven and spread tomalito on opposite half of bolillo.
- Layer sliced pork shoulder onto bolillo. Close sandwich and devour every crumb.
Tip: A touch of Spicy Sandwich Spread (added after bolillo is warmed) gives this sandwich an added punch.