Tonight’s recipe is inspired by the tortas ahogadas that are sold at carts and stands throughout Guadalajara. It is a thick sandwich, traditionally stuffed with shredded meat, served on crusty, chewy birote bread and slathered with salsa. They’re meant to be eaten on paper plates, right on the street, as the sauce runs down your hands.
Both my parents are from Guadalajara and this is something they brought with them to the U.S. and taught their kids to love. My mom would make them on Saturdays when she had time to stew the meat for hours. “Ana,” my dad would ask in anticipation, “¿estás hacienda tortas ahogadas?” And, of course, she was making them for him, to relive their shared past. This was when I first learned that food was love.
But I was a weird little kid and only liked my tortas with refried beans, no meat please. This is how I still like them today and this is how I’ve shared them with my husband. From Guadalajra to San Diego to Philadelphia, these little sandwiches have come a long way.
Because birote rolls are so hard to find, you can substitute French bread. Actually, birote comes from the bread that was introduced by the French during their occupation of Mexico. So, we’re just going back to the roots.
Usually, when you make tortas ahogadas, the main salsa is not spicy at all. You make this very spicy red pepper chili to go along with the main salsa. But tonight I was in a lazy mood and couldn’t be bothered to make a separate chili. So I tossed in three chipotle chilis into the main salsa. You can be traditional and make the separate chili or be lazy like me.
Tortas Ahogadas with Refried Beans
Ingredients: (makes 4 sandwiches)
For the salsa:
- 1 can tomatoes, 28 ounces
- 1/2 medium onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tsp. dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1-3 canned chipotle chilis (optional)
For the sandwiches:
- 1 French baguette
- 2 cups refried beans (click here and excellent recipe)
- Red Pepper Chili (optional)
To make the salsa:
1. Throw all the ingredients for the salsa into a blender.
2. Once the ingredients are well blended, transfer the salsa to a sauce pan. Cover the sauce pan and cook the salsa on low for ten minutes.
Put it all together:
3. As the sauce cooks, prep the bread for the sandwiches. Cut the bread into sections weighing about 3 ounces each and slice down the middle.
4. For each sandwich, layer on 1/2 cup refried beans. Scoop the salsa over the sandwich.
Yields 4 sandwiches
Serving Size: 1 sandwich made with 3 ounces of bread, 1/2 cup refried beans and 1/4 of the salsa
Weight Watchers Points+: 9
Calories 366, Carbs 70g, Fat 3g, Protein 15g
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