A torta ahogada is a typical dish from the Mexican state of Jalisco, particularly in the city of Guadalajara. Although it is popular in some other parts of Mexico, it is most popular in Jalisco. It is called “drowned” because the sandwich is submerged totally or partially in a sauce made primarily of a dried chilli pepper called chile de árbol. Less spicy versions of the sandwich, made with a tomato-based sauce are also available.
Tortas ahogadas are made with Birote Bread (also called bolillo) characteristic of the region. Specifically, it is made with birote salado, which has a thick, crunchy crust and softer interior which is more salty than sweet. The consistency of the bread permits the sandwich to be submerged in sauce without crumbling or dissolving. The bread is sliced open on one side and the sandwich is filled with chopped, fried pork. Fillings of chicken, beans and cheese are sometimes available. The sandwiches are served with onion rings, radishes, avocados and chilli peppers.
The sauce can be either spicy or mild. The first is based on ground arbol chillies, vinegar, garlic, oregano and other spices. Sweet sauce, which is considerably less spicy, is made of red tomatoes and chilli peppers. If the sandwich is ordered “media ahogada” or “half drowned,” it is dipped partially in the sauce. If the sandwich is “bien ahogada” or “well drowned,” the bread and meat are completely submerged in the sauce until no bubbles emerge.
It is traditional to eat tortas ahogadas in Estadio Jalisco, the soccer stadium in Guadalajara, in spite of the difficulty in consuming them. They are usually eaten with bare hands, even though tortas ahogadas are messy due to the large amount of sauce used. This delicacy is usually available from street vendors, but it can be found in restaurants too.
The torta ahogada is often said to hold a special place in the hearts of many people who are from Guadalajara or have spent time there. Some people go to great lengths to seek out tortas ahogadas in places outside of the region. The people from Guadalajara claim that no one really visits Guadalajara without making a stop to try a torta ahogada.
- bolillo bread ( The texture of the bread permits the sandwich to be submerged in sauce without crumbling or dissolving.)
- 2 - 3 chicken thighs, grilled or barbecued
- 1 avocado, sliced
- queso fresco
- 1 large tomato, sliced
- sliced jalapeno, to taste
- onion rings, to taste
- 5 tomatoes, coarsely chopped
- 1 onion, coarsely chopped
- ½ cup water
- 3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- salt, to taste
- 7 green chillies
- ½ cup water
- ¼ cup white vinegar
- salt, to taste
- Place all tomato sauce ingredients in a saucepan and cook until the tomatoes and onions are soft. Allow to cool then place in blender and puree. Strain the puree and set aside.
- Lightly roast the chilli de arbol on a comal or dry griddle just to the point of fragrance. Do not allow them to char as this results in a bitter flavour. Remove the stem and seeds from the chillies. Place the chillies and remaining chilli sauce ingredients in a saucepan, cook until the chillies have softened, remove from heat and allow to cool. Transfer sauce ingredients to a blender, puree and strain. Set aside.
- Cut the bolillo in half and place the rolls on a plate. Bathe each side of the bolillo with tomato sauce and then place the chicken on the bottom half of the bolillo. Add the queso fresco, tomato, avocado, onions & jalapeno slivers. Close the the torta and drizzle more tomato and chilli de arbol sauce on top.