Cook the Book: Tortaburgers

Cook the Book: Tortaburgers
  • Yield:4 single-portion burger tortas or 2 gigantic burger tortas

Please forgive me for making broad assumptions, but the Mexican torta might just be the most welcoming sandwich ever. I could eat pretty much anything if it were stuffed into a toasted telera bun and layered with refried beans, sliced avocado, pickled jalapeños, a slice or two of cheese, and a generous slathering of mayonnaise. I've had variations that include anything from hot dogs to grilled pineapple, reconstituted ham, and even a deep fried fillet of fish. But for all of the jamon, bistec, and milanesa de pollo tortas I've enjoyed, it's never once crossed my mind to throw a burger into the mix.

These Tortaburgers topped with cheese, avocado, jalapeño, and a spread of refried beans from The Tex-Mex Grill and Backyard Barbacoa Cookbook by Robb Walsh seem like something I should have ordered at my local panderia a long time ago. Walsh goes the extra Tex-Mex mile by dressing up the burger with chopped chiles and garlic, a bit of Worcestershire, and a spicy grill blend. The combination of all of these toppings might seem excessive, but once they're on top of the patty the combination is pretty magical.

Win The Tex-Mex Grill and Backyard Barbacoa Cookbook

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of The Tex-Mex Grill and Backyard Barbacoa Cookbook to give away this week.


  • 2 large telera bread rolls
  • 4 slices Swiss or provolone cheese
  • 4 Tex-Mex Burger Patties, size of your choice (recipe follows)
  • 1/2 cup refried beans (recipe follows)
  • 4 well-done fried eggs (optional)
  • 4 thin tomato slices
  • 4 thin onion slices
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise (in a squeeze bottle if possible)
  • Pickled jalapeño slices
  • 1 large avocado, thinly sliced
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon Tex-Mex Grill Blend (recipe follows)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon minced serrano chile
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 tablespoons sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons powdered chile of your choice
  • 2 tablespoons dried granulated garlic
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon ground thyme
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 cup lard, bacon grease, or vegetable oil
  • 3 cups drained cooked pinto beans
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup reserved bean broth
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


  1. 1.

    Prepare the grill. Separate the rolls and toast them cut side down on the grill while the burgers are cooking.

  2. 2.

    Turn the rolls over crust side down and place two cheese slices on top of each bun. Close the lid of the grill and allow the cheese to melt.

  3. 3.

    Cook the burger patties to your preferred degree of doneness.

  4. 4.

    Spread refried beans on each toasted bottom bun and top with two cooked burger patties side by side. Center the fried eggs on the burger patties, if using. Put a tomato slice and an onion slice on each patty and squiggle or dot with mayo. Add a couple slices of jalapeno.

  5. 5.

    Divide the avocado slices among the toasted top buns and push them into the cheese. Clamp the top bun onto the bottom and compress lightly so the sandwich holds together. Slice in between the burger patties.

  6. 6.

    Tex-Mex Burger Patties

  7. 7.

    - makes four 1/2-pound or six 1/3-pound patties -

  8. 8.

    Combine all of the ingredients and mix well. Form into patties. If you plan on freezing some, separate the patties with wax paper so you can remove as many as you need.

  9. 9.

    Tex-Mex Grill Blend

  10. 10.

    Combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl, blending well to evenly distribute the spices. Be sure to break up any chunks that appear. Store the blend in a spice jar or baby food container. Shake again before each use.

  11. 11.

    Refried Beans

  12. 12.

    - makes 3 cups -

  13. 13.

    Melt the lard in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Allow to heat for another minute, then add the beans and mash them for 2 minutes with a fork or potato masher. Stir in the 1/2 teaspoon of salt (or to taste). Add the bean broth and the pepper and continue mashing until the beans reach the desired consistency. Tex-Mex beans are generally chunky rather than soupy.

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