Drowned Sandwiches (Tortas Ahogadas) are pork sandwiches drenched in spicy tomato sauce.
Learn how to recreate this Mexican street food classic. Messy, yummy, and totally amazing!
Watch the VIDEO or check out the step-by-step pictures.
Today, I’m bringing you Drowned Sandwiches (Tortas Ahogadas).
I know. I know. It sounds weird.
I assure you, however, that no lifeguards are needed to save these tortas from drowning.
If you have never had one of these incredibly tasty sandwiches, you’re in for a real Mexican treat.
How to make Tortas Ahogadas
If you buy Drowned Sandwiches (Tortas Ahogadas) from a Mexican food stand, they will serve it in a bag to hold the sauce.
If you are at a sit down place, they serve it in a bowl.
Everyone has their own recipe for this delicious dish.
This is MY recipe.
I make them with a guajillo and chile de árbol sauce.
This Tortas Ahogadas recipe is on the milder side. I would say a level 6 in heat.
To make a spicier sauce, use one more chile de árbol. This chile is small but mighty.
Up next, roast the tomatoes on the stove.
You can roast them in the oven too. Under the broiler for a few minutes.
The smell of tomatoes roasting though… takes me back to my childhood like THAT. (snaps fingers)
If the weather permits, you can also roast them on the grill. A few minutes on each side until the skin is nice and black.
Set them aside until they are cool enough to touch.
If the sauce is too spicy, you can always bring down the heat by adding an extra tomato.
Another thing to you can do to tame the heat is to add ketchup. There is sugar in ketchup and will help balance the sauce out.
Rule of thumb: Taste the sauce. If the sauce tastes good to you, then the dish will turn out good too.
From here, place everything in the blender and blend until smooth.
I own 4 blenders. Nope. Not kidding. There are two big ones and two little ones in Mama Maggie’s Kitchen.
Guys, I’m a busy mom. I am all for making things in advance or making it once and using it twice.
If you make the sauce in advance, it will last in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Anything after that will just go to waste. EEK!
Or, stick the sauce for the Tortas Ahogadas in the freezer and defrost it when you’re ready to use.
There’s no real way to store one of these sandwiches.
Once you make it, you gotta eat it right away.
My mother is not big on straining. Most of the time, I don’t strain either.
It has nothing to do with taste or texture preference.
I hate washing the strainer. That’s it.
The little bits of blended chile in the strainer… UGH! I can never get them all out.
Here, for this Tortas Ahogadas recipe, though, I will insist on straining the sauce.
It is going over a sandwich, and you want the sauce to be smooth.
Heat some oil to a stockpot and add the sauce. Cook for only a few minutes and set aside.
You don’t want the sauce to super hot when you pour it over the sandwich.
Now onto the sandwich. I am using pork carnitas.
If you want to keep it traditional, use braised pork or leftover pork loin roast.
Even though I have seen Drowned Sandwiches (Tortas Ahogadas) made with pork, beef, even fish during Lent, this dish is made with porky goodness.
If you’re running around (like I am most days), buy some carnitas from the local Mexican market.
It will make cooking this recipe a lot faster.
This dish is also perfect for leftovers.
I can’t think of anything better to make with leftover pork from a few nights ago than this Tortas Ahogadas recipe.
Do you see the crispy carnitas meat? YUM!
Drowned Sandwiches (Tortas Ahogadas) are made with birotes.
It’s a bread that’s bigger than a bolillo.
My friends, I have a hard time finding it even in Mexico.
So, I’m using a bolillo. The bigger the bread, the better.
You will want lots of bread to soak up the sauce.
You can also use French bread or baguette.
This just by itself is delicious, but we’re taking our sandwich to an entirely new level by drenching it with the sauce.
Time to “drown” our sandwich.
Place your sandwich in a deep plate.
Then with a ladle, drench it with the tomato guajillo sauce.
Add some sauce around the sandwich as well.
You will need it for dipping.
It’s a very messy but incredible dish.
Origins of Tortas Ahogadas
This recipe comes from the Mexican state of Jalisco.
It is said that Luis de la Torre (el Güero) invented Tortas Ahogadas.
He started selling them in the center of Guadalajara.
When his died, his son, el Güero junior, continued the tradition and opened up a restaurant.
The restaurant is still in operation today.
Lastly, top your Drowned Sandwiches (Tortas Ahogadas) with pickled red onions.
I feel like the onions are a must.
They really give the sandwich good flavor.
This is one of those dishes that has that OMG effect.
You can eat it with a fork and knife, or just get in there with your hands like me.
There really aren’t any side dishes to serve with this sandwich.
It is Mexican street food. Wrap it up and go.
Don’t forget to serve it with a lot of napkins.
While it is “finger licking good,” you don’t want that juice to be on the loose. 😉 Enjoy!
Watch Video on How to Make Tortas Ahogadas
Watch Video on How to Make Tortas Ahogadas
- Guajillo chiles - stems, seeds, and veins removed
- 4 chile de árbol - stems, seeds, and veins removed
- ¼ onion
- 3 garlic cloves
- 4 cups water
- 4 Roma tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 cups leftover pork, chopped
- 4 birotes (can substitute with bolillos or French bread)
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.
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