The Mexican torta, like all great sandwiches, is all about properly portioned layers interacting with each other in delicious ways. It's a delicate thing.
Try to get greedy with the guacamole, and things get too creamy and messy. If you pile on too much steak, each bite feels too heavy. But ah, when the ingredients align—refried beans, grilled steak, pickled onions, and guacamole—it's a glorious union.
This great recipe comes from the San Francisco Chronicle. The steak is marinated for thirty minutes with lime juice and chipotle, then cooked until it's well-caramelized and all the way done. This is one of those rare times when a medium-rare steak is not preferable. What you want are crispy bits of charred steak, otherwise the meat will be chewy and your sandwich will fall apart after one bite. Trust me on this one.
What really takes this sandwich above and beyond other tortas is the pickled onion. It soaks up the apple cider vinegar, and provides the much needed tang to help balance the creaminess of both the beans and guacamole. It's the secret ingredient, one that so many tortas skimp on. Take your torta to the next level.
- 1 3/4 pounds flank steak
- 2 teaspoons salt
- Juice of 3 limes
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tablespoons canned chipotle adobo sauce
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 1/2 cups refried black beans
- 2 ripe avocados, peeled and chopped
- 6 bolillos, or Italian rolls
- 6 ounces queso fresco, sliced
- Pickled jalapeños
Lay the steak out on a cutting board. Make three diagonal slashes in the meat, about a 1/2-inch thick on both sides. Place in a plastic bag along with 1 teaspoon of the salt, the juice of 2 of the limes, garlic, and chipotles in adobo. Shake the bag to evenly distribute the marinade. Set aside for 30 minutes at room temperature.
Meanwhile, pour the apple cider vinegar and sugar into a pot along with 1 cup of water. Bring to a simmer, then turn the heat off and add 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and the balsamic vinegar. Stir well and then pour this mixture into a bowl and add the red onion slices. Set aside for 30 minutes.
Remove the steak from the plastic bag, and discard the marinade. Preheat a grill or grill pan to medium heat. Place steak on and cook for about 15 minutes, flipping halfway through. Make sure it does not burn. Turn the heat down if you need to. Set aside for 10 minutes before cutting in. Thinly slice it against the grain. Then chop the slices into bite sized pieces.
Add the chopped avocado to a bowl along with the juice of 1 lime, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Mash it with a fork until creamy.
Warm the refried beans in a small pan.