Pork Carnitas and Oaxaca Cheese Shooter's-Style Sandwich With Spicy Refried Beans and Pickled Red Onions Recipe

Photographs: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt

Mexican tortas are delicious, but messy. This sandwich, inspired by the same flavors, solves that problem by packing them all into a bread boat and pressing them under heavy weights until they form a single, intensely flavorful package with juicy pork, pickled onions, jalapeños, beans, and gooey melted Oaxaca cheese.

Why this recipe works:

  • Flavorful-but-messy ingredients are packed together into a well-balanced, neat, sliceable package.

Note: The carnitas recipe also produces enough salsa for this sandwich. If using store-bought carnitas or pulled pork, you can make Basic Salsa Verde separately, or use your favorite store-bought salsa. This sandwich can also be served at room temperature, but heat it for best flavor and texture.

Recipe Facts

Active: 20 mins
Total: 4 hrs 20 mins
Serves: 4 to 6 servings

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  • 1 loaf rustic country bread or ciabatta
  • 1 1/2 cups Spicy refried beans or store-bought refried beans
  • 1 recipes Carnitas, with 1/3 cup of the salsa produced in that recipe (see note)
  • 12 ounces Oaxaca or mozzarella cheese, shredded by hand
  • 1 1/2 cups pickled red onions, drained in a salad spinner
  • 2 to 3 jalapeño peppers, finely sliced


  1. Slice off the top 1 to 1 1/2-inches of the loaf of bread using a bread knife. Cut around the perimeter of the interior crumb, making sure not to break through the bottom crust, then use your hand to lift out the excess bread from the inside, leaving you with a hollow bread boat.

  2. Spread beans on bottom of bread boat, followed by carnitas, salsa, cheese, pickled onions, and sliced jalapeños. Close sandwich.

  3. Wrap sandwich tightly in aluminum foil or butcher's paper, then place in between two stiff cutting boards. Place a heavy weight on top (about 40 pounds), press down firmly to flatten sandwich, then let rest under the weight for at least 4 hours and up to overnight (keep an eye on the sandwich to ensure that it is pressing evenly).

  4. When ready to eat, adjust oven rack to center position and preheat oven to 375°F. Remove weights, slice sandwich into four to six pieces through paper or foil with a bread knife, unwrap, and transfer to a rimmed baking sheet, pressing the pieces back together to form a full sandwich shape. Place in oven until hot and cheese has melted, about 15 minutes. Serve immediately.

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