Sunday, December 27, 2009

Remembering Guadalajara with Tortas Ahogadas

If you have been to the awesome city of Gudalajara Mexico, you know what a diverse city it is. Art, shopping and of course food are some of the best in the country. When we visited Guadalajara this past September, the city showed us that all of the hype I had read before the trip was in fact, all true. Actually it was E's cousin Mario, who has lived in the city for the last 7 years, who showed us around. He was a great tour guide and I think he has eaten at every restaurant in the city. When I asked him the best place to "taste Guadalajara" he took me to Tortas Toño (Dirección: Av. Tepeyac # 605) for a Torta Ahogada.

Ahogada means "drowned", and it is an appropriate word to describe these sandwiches on a bread [said only to be made in Guadalajara], filled with meat and bathed with tomato and hot sauce. While some restaurants and food stalls automatically top the tortas with both salsas, most people prefer to indicate how much chile sauce they want, since it is quite hot. When serving them at home, you may want pass the chile sauce separately.

This recipe is adapted from a Mexican cookbook called 101 Recetas Mexicanas. And I must say this recipe is quite authentic, coming very close if not on par with the torta I ate not too long ago in Guadalajara.

Tortas Ahogadas


For the tomato sauce:

3 pounds roma tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 large white onion, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ cup water
salt to taste

For the chile sauce:

¼ pound arbol chiles
1 cup water
½ cup white vinegar
salt to taste
For the tortas:

8 bolillos (French rolls) split in half lengthwise
1 ½ pounds boneless pork loin or shoulder
1 onion, cut in half3 cloves garlic
1 bay leaf
1 sprig oregano
salt to taste

Place all tomato sauce ingredients in a saucepan and cook until the tomatoes and onions are soft. Allow to cool, place in blender and puree. Strain the puree and set aside.
Lightly roast the arbol chiles on a comal or dry griddle, just to the point of fragrance. Do not allow them to char, as this results in a bitter flavor. Remove the stem and seeds from the chiles. Place the chiles and remaining chile sauce ingredients in a saucepan, cook until the chiles have softened, remove from heat and allow to cool. Transfer sauce ingredients to a blender, puree and strain. Set aside.

Cook the meat in water to cover with the onion, garlic, bay leaf, oregano and salt to taste. When cooked through, remove from cooking liquid and allow to cool. Shred the meat with two forks, or slice thinly if preferred.Remove the soft center (called the miga) from the rolls, place the rolls on plates, and divide the meat among the rolls by placing some on the bottom half of each roll. Bathe each one with tomato sauce. The tortas are easier to eat if the top half is left "dry." Each diner can add chile sauce to taste. If possible, do as they do in Jalisco and use a plate with a lip to serve these tortas, to prevent messy dripping. Serves 8.


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