The Torta: Essentially just the name given to any Mexican sandwich. During our time in Oaxaca, this was one of the first foods we immediately fell in love with, and has remained one of our top choices when grabbing a bite on the side of the road. This is one of those comfort foods that you eat without remorse: forget about caloric intake, don’t bother counting carbs, or getting enough ‘green’ in your meal. This sandwich is meant to be enjoyed with pleasure, and without guilt. Devour this sandwich like the animal you are, while the red-stained grease drips down your arms.
Now like any sandwich, it’s what goes in it that makes it stand above the rest. This version features chorizo and roasted pork shoulder. From the perfectly toasted bun that remains soft on the inside, to the to the juicy pork and spiced chorizo, to the slightly-sour kick of heat from the pickles; it’s become not only a favourite from Oaxaca, but one of the best street foods in all our travels. We sampled several different versions around the city, and with our favourite aspects have compiled our own version of this not only simple to make, but a fantastically delicious sandwich.
Torta with Pork and Chorizo
(makes 4 tortas)
4 kaiser buns / Vienna rolls, sliced in half
3/4 cup canned black beans, rinsed
1 lb chorizo (either ground, or as sausages)
1 lb roasted pork, sliced thin (preferably shoulder, but any cut will do)
1 1/2 cups quesillo, shredded (check your local Latin market. If unavailable, cheese curds should work)
2 tomatoes, sliced
Salt and black pepper to taste
Take a pan, preferably cast-iron, and put it on medium-high heat. If you’re using chorizo sausages rather than just the ground meat, slice open the casings and scrape out the filling while the pan heats up. Once the pan is nice and hot, add a splash of olive oil and throw in the ground meat.
While the chorizo is cooking, mash together the beans and avocado with the lime juice and season to taste. It doesn’t have to be a smooth paste, a rough mashing with a fork will do just fine.
Once the chorizo is cooked, remove it from the pan and keep warm. If the pan is dry, add a little more olive oil. Turn down the heat to medium, season the sliced pork with salt and pepper, and add to the pan to warm through. Once the pork is heated, remove it and turn off the heat. Place the buns in the pan, sliced side down while the pan is still hot, move them around to soak up any residual oil. Leave them in the pan to keep warm until ready to serve.
Heat another pan on medium heat, and once hot, add the cheese in four separate portions straight into the pan. Let it slowly melt into small piles. Top the cheese with the cooked chorizo and sliced pork, and remove the pan from heat.
Take the toasted buns, spread the mashed bean mixture on both sides, and place two slices of tomato on the bottom half. Using a spatula, lift the melted cheese and meat mixture and place it on top of the tomatoes. Throw on as many spiced pickles as you’d like, close up the bun, and indulge without shame.
“You put more value on every minute. You know I always kinda thought I did that. I really always enjoyed myself. But it’s more valuable now. You’re reminded to enjoy every sandwich and every minute.”Warren Zevon