What Is a Tortas Ahogada?
The torta ahogada is a Mexican pork sandwich believed to have originated in the early 1900s in Guadalajara, Jalisco. Literally "drowned sandwich," the torta ahogada features carnitas served on birote salado, a sourdough roll with a crispy, salted crust, sometimes spread with frijoles refritos (refried beans). The torta is “drowned” in a spicy tomato and chile de árbol sauce and topped with raw white onion. Unlike other types of tortas, which are usually served on soft rolls (either the torpedo-shaped bolillo or flat telera), the torta ahogada requires a bread with more crunch to prevent full-on sogginess.
You can serve a torta ahogada either bien ahogada (well-drowned in sauce) or medio ahogada (half-drowned), or you can dunk the sandwich in a mild tomato sauce and add hot sauce to taste. Optional sides and toppings include radishes, avocado, and a squeeze of fresh lime juice.
Simple Mexican Torta Ahogada Recipe
Prep Time15 min
Total Time45 min
Cook Time30 min
For the spicy salsa:
- 10 dried chiles de árbol
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 small white onion, roughly chopped
- 2 pounds Roma tomatoes, roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons white vinegar, plus more to taste
- 1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
- Chicken stock (optional)
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
For the sandwich:
- 8 birote salado rolls or other crusty bread, such as baguettes
- 2 cups refried beans
- 3 pounds pork carnitas
- 1 cup pickled red onions or sliced raw onion, to serve
- 8 lime wedges, to serve
- Rehydrate chiles de árbol in a large bowl of hot water, about 20 minutes. Set on a plate lined with napkins to drain and cool. Once cool enough to handle, de-stem the chiles.
- In a blender, combine rehydrated chiles with garlic, onions, tomato, vinegar, oregano, black pepper, cumin, and salt. Blend until smooth, adding water or chicken stock to thin out the sauce if necessary.
- In a saucepan over medium-high heat, heat vegetable oil until shimmering. Add the chile-tomato sauce and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat and cook until sauce has thickened slightly, about 10 minutes. If the sauce becomes too thick, add additional water or chicken stock.
- Split the bread rolls. Spread one side of each roll with refried beans and stuff each roll with carnitas. Ladle sauce over each sandwich until bien ahogada (well-drowned). Serve with sliced onions and lime wedges.
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