A sandwich is a sandwich but a torta is… well, let’s just say that it’s nothing like the sandwiches you carried to school in a brown paper bag. Tortas are turbo charged layers of flavor packed inside some of the best sandwich rolls you’ve ever eaten.
Imagine the famous Torta a La Plancha; it’s a torta so big that you’ll need both hands to lift. This torta is grilled on the outside and filled with tender slow-roasted pork on the inside. A fistful of shredded lettuce and a drizzle of the mayo/mustard dressing will keep you licking your fingers till the end, if your appetite’s big enough to get you there.
A trip to Guadalajara wouldn’t be complete without stopping for a famous Torta Ahogada. Succulent bits of pork carnitas inside a crusty roll would be delicious on its own but this torta is all about the sauce. Ahogada literally means “drowned”, and if a torta has to go by drowning, then this is the sauce to do it in.
The Pambazo is a knockout with a name worthy of a batman comic strip. Wham! Pow! Pambazo! An unexpected filling of potato and Mexican chorizo (sausage) reside inside a roll that has been dipped in a mild Guajillo chili sauce then grilled. This torta is usually served on a roll of the same name, Pambazo, but a good substitute would be the Telera Mexican Sandwich Rolls or any sturdy sandwich roll. *Aunt Terri tip – add an egg to the Pambazo for a unique breakfast sandwich.
Chorizo and Potato Sandwiches
Choose a soft chorizo that can be removed from its casing and crumbled rather than a hard, cured Chorizo.
For the filling:
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
8 ounces Mexican chorizo, casings removed and crumbled
2 medium white potatoes, approximately 1 pound
½ cup finely diced white or yellow onion
½ teaspoon sea salt, medium grind
½ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
For the sauce:
4 chili Guajillo
¼ medium white onion, coarsely chopped
1 large garlic clove
1/8 teaspoon sea salt, medium grind
Pinch of whole leaf oregano
For assembling the sandwiches:
4 Telera or other sturdy sandwich rolls
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
½ small head iceberg lettuce, shredded
¼ cup Mexican crema or sour cream
¼ cup crumbled Cotija cheese
Pickled jalapeño slices, optional
Place the potatoes in a medium saucepan and cover with water. Add ½ teaspoon salt and bring to a boil over medium heat. When the water begins to boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until the potatoes are very tender, approximately 30 minutes. When the potatoes are tender, drain and set aside until cool enough to handle.
While the potatoes are cooking, toast and rehydrate the Guajillo chilies as described in Helpful Tips. Place the rehydrated chilies into the jar of a blender along with the remaining sauce ingredients. With the blender motor off, use a wooden spoon to push the onion and chilies down around the blade so that the blade is able to grab hold. Blend until smooth, approximately 15 seconds. Using the back of a large spoon, push the chili mixture through a mesh strainer into a small bowl; discard the tough skin of the Guajillo chilies caught by the strainer.
Peel the cooked potatoes if you prefer. I typically leave the skin on. Roughly dice the potatoes and using a potato masher, crush the potatoes into a coarse mash. Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat, add the chorizo and onion, cook, turning often until the onion begins to turn translucent, approximately 4 minutes. Add the potato to the pan stirring to combine with the chorizo and onion, season with the salt and pepper and continue cooking, turning occasionally, until the potato softens and begins to brown. If the mixture is dry or the potatoes aren’t soft enough, add a tablespoon or two of water until you create a soft filling that holds together. Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm.
Slice the sandwich rolls open. Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium low heat. Separate the tops of the rolls from the bottoms; flip the bottom halves over and paint the bottom surface and around the sides with the chili sauce using a pastry brush. Turn the bottom halves back upright and place the chili coated bottoms into the hot pan. Paint the tops of the rolls with the sauce and set them atop the bottoms in the pan. When the bottoms have browned, turn the rolls over in the pan to brown the tops. Lean the rolls against the side of the fry pan to brown the sides, rotating often to brown the entire perimeter. When the rolls are browned and warmed through remove them from the pan.
Divide the filling between the rolls, top with shredded lettuce, drizzle 1 tablespoon of the crema or sour cream over the lettuce and sprinkle with the cotija cheese. Serve with the jalapeño slices tableside.
In the next Aunt Terri Cooks: A step by step guide to great Corn Tortillas
Written by: Terri Arronge