Photo by Leslie Limón

Torta Ahogada (Sloppy Carnitas Sandwich)

Cuisine: Mexican
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 6 servings

A visit to Guadalajara wouldn’t be complete without stopping to try the city’s signature dish: la torta ahogada. Literally translated, torta ahogada means “drowned sandwich,” or in less dramatic terms, a sloppy sandwich. The sandwich consists of a toasted bolillo roll stuffed with refried beans, shredded pork carnitas, and pickled red onion. The tortas are then dipped into a mild tomato salsa, then topped with a spicy árbol chile salsa. With this easy recipe, you can now enjoy all the flavor of Guadalajara’s famous sandwich at home. Enjoy!


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  1. Bring the tomatoes and water to a boil in a large saucepan over high heat; cover and reduce heat to low. Let simmer for 12 to 15 minutes until tomatoes are completely cooked; remove from heat. Add the dried árbol chiles to let soak in the hot water; cover and let tomatoes cool slightly.
  2. While the tomatoes are cooking, prepare the pickled onions by mixing together the sliced red onion and the juice of 6 limes; season with salt to taste. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  3. Puree half of the tomatoes in a blender with ½ cup of the water they were cooked in. Pour mild tomato salsa into a medium bowl; season with ¼ teaspoon crushed oregano and ½ teaspoon of the salt.
  4. Puree the remaining tomatoes with ½ cup of the cooking water and the árbol chiles. Pour salsa into a separate bowl; season with the remaining ¼ teaspoon of crushed oregano and ½ teaspoon of salt.
  5. Heat the refried beans and pork carnitas.
  6. Slice open the bolillo rolls lengthwise, without separating the top completely. Lightly toast the bolillo rolls on a comal, griddle or non-stick skillet over medium heat. Spread about 2 tablespoons of refried beans on bottom half of bolillo roll. Top with ¼ to 1/3 cup of shredded pork carnitas; cover torta with top half of bolillo roll. Use kitchen tongs to dip tortas in the mild tomato salsa or place torta on plate and ladle ½ to 2/3 cup of mild tomato salsa over each torta. Top with 1/3 cup of the spicy tomato salsa. For even more heat, add a splash of your favorite bottled hot sauce.

Chef Notes

To really bring out the flavor of the dried árbol chiles, toast them for about 1 minute in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat before adding to the cooked tomatoes.

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