The Torta

Do you live near a Vallarta Market? If you are in Southern California, you may be fortunate enough to have a Vallarta Market near you. It’s the Whole Foods of the Mexican community, minus the organic and the quinoa and the whole-paycheck part. The Vallarta Market is REALLY inexpensive, and has really great Mexican stuff. The prepared foods are fabulous (pick up the “Pork al Pastor” pre-marinated in the meat section, take it home and grill it up with some tortillas and their homemade salsa roja.)

Anyway, the best part of the Vallarta Market, in my humble opinion, is the Torta Cubana. You can only eat this sandwich once a year, or it will kill you. It takes two days to eat, and each time you eat it, it takes half a day to digest. But it is worth it — a bun piled with beans, fried egg, grilled ham, bacon and cheese. (And still, it’s better for you than one of those Carl’s Jr. things you see on TV.) Add some salsa and pickled jalapeños from the salsa bar in the area you go to sit and eat. And remember, eat half and take the rest home. For y’all unfortunate folks with no Vallarta Market nearby, here’s a recipe so you can make it at home:

Serves two for two days (or four):

Two kaiser rolls or other roundish, flattish bread (you could even get away with ciabatta)
two slices ham, grilled quickly in a hot pan
four pieces of cooked bacon
two eggs, fried
grated colby or cheddar
1/2 cup refried beans
1/2 small onion, chopped
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
red salsa
pickled jalapeños

Slice the buns open, brush with mayonnaise, and grill in a hot pan until toasted. Add a little more mayo. Then build your torta — refried beans, topped with a fried egg, topped with a slice of ham and the bacon, topped with grated cheese and then chopped onion and cilantro. Put the top bun on. Now put a little vegetable oil (canola, sunflower, whatever) in a pan — just a little bit to create a light barrier. (This could be a good instance for one of those oil sprays I’ve seen.) Heat the pan and place the tortas in the pan to toast. Cover with a lid that is slightly smaller than the pan, so you can press the sandwiches down some. (You could use a panini grill instead if you’ve got one.) When the bottom seems lightly toasted, flip the sandwiches and grill the top. You want them a little toasty on top and bottom, and you want the cheese to begin to melt a little. Take the sandwiches off, remove the top and drizzle with some salsa and add some jalapeños, and put the top back on. Serve.

If you like to experiment, you can mix it up by trying different cheese, different meat (leftover cochinita pibil makes a great torta, as does shredded chicken).

Beverage suggestions: Cold Mexican beer, cold Mexican soda

5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. g
    Aug 22, 2010 @ 17:51:03

    I love a milanese torta!

    Have you ever had a pambazo?


  2. scolgin
    Aug 22, 2010 @ 18:17:50



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