Tortas Ahogadas

Total Time:
5 hr 45 min
1 hr 15 min
1 hr
3 hr 30 min

6 servings

  • Braised Pork Butt:
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons granulated garlic
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 1/2 pounds boneless pork butt, fat trimmed, cut into 3 or 4 large pieces
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • One 12-ounce bottle Mexican beer
  • Tomato Sauce:
  • 6 to 8 dried chile de arbol
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1/2 white onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, cored, seeded and diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • One 28-ounce can crushed fire-roasted tomatoes
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Sandwich:
  • 6 bolillo rolls (see Cook's Note)
  • Olive oil, for brushing
  • 2 cups shredded green cabbage
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Pico de gallo, recipe follows
  • Pickled Red Onions, recipe follows
  • Pico de Gallo:
  • 4 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1/2 red onion, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Pickled Red Onions:
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 red onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • Sea salt
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Pinch cayenne
  • Pinch ground cinnamon
  • 1 whole star anise
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar

For the braised pork butt: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

In a small bowl, combine the chili powder, cumin, garlic, paprika, mustard, coriander, salt and pepper. Pat the pork dry, then coat it with the rub.

In a large cast-iron pan, heat the canola oil over medium-high heat. Sear the pork until browned on all sides, 8 to 10 minutes. Pour in the beer, cover the pan tightly with foil and transfer it to the oven for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Let the pork cool a bit before shredding.

For the tomato sauce: Soak the chile de arbol for 20 minutes in warm water. Once rehydrated, remove the stems and seeds and roughly chop. Heat the canola in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until translucent, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the chile de arbol, jalapeno, garlic, cumin and oregano and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, until fragrant. Add the vinegar, tomatoes and 1 cup water. Bring to a simmer and cook for 45 to 50 minutes, stirring often. When done, puree the sauce until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

To assemble the sandwich: Slice the bolillos in half, leaving them hinged at one end. Brush the insides with olive oil. Place the bolillos cut-side up on a baking sheet; transfer to the oven and toast until crispy, about 5 minutes. Fill each bolillo with some shredded pork, topped with some tomato sauce, shredded cabbage, cilantro, pico de gallo and pickled red onions. Serve.

Pico de Gallo:

In a bowl, combine the tomatoes, jalapeno, lime juice, red onion, cilantro and garlic. Mix to combine. Season with salt and pepper, and refrigerate for 1 hour to allow flavors to meld.

Pickled Red Onions:

Heat a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the olive oil, the onions and some sea salt, and saute until the onions are just softened, about 5 minutes. Add the bay leaf, cayenne, cinnamon, start anise, honey, red wine vinegar and just enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, then turn off the heat. Set aside to cool to room temperature. Remove the whole spices and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Bolillo rolls, 6-inches long and football-shaped, are traditional in tortas. If you cannot find them, substitute French rolls of roughly equivalent size and shape.

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