I'm an admitted fan of the Mexican torta, a sandwich all about the balance of spicy chiles, meaty fillings, and cooling toppings. Of the many great fillings that can be used, one of my favorites is definitely the Milanesa, or a thin pork cutlet that is breaded and fried. And when I mean thin, I mean very thin. It should be 1/4-inch thick and golden brown, and yet it should still remain tender and juicy. It's hard to get right, but this version from Marcela Valladolid manages to really get the pork right, while also adding some intriguing toppings.
As good as the pork is, most of the actual flavor comes from two kinds of chiles. Chipotles and pickled jalapeños both make an appearance, and they aren't used sparingly. I love spice, but even I worried that my mouth would just end up on fire after one bite. Instead, the two provide the dish with its sturdy backbone. The chipotles are mixed with mayonnaise for a creamy spread that has a rounded smoky depth to it. The jalapeños are just sliced and placed on top, but they give each bite a sharp and acidic kick. The result is torta that is certainly spicy, but has enough flavor to keep things interesting.
Adapted from Marcela Valladolid's recipe on the Today Show.
- Yield:serves 4
- Active time: 45 minutes
- Total time:45 minutes
- For the Chipotle Mayonnaise
- 1 canned chipotle chilie in adobo sauce, minced
- 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- salt and black pepper
- For the Torta
- 4 (4-ounce) pork cutlets, pounded to 1/4-inch thick
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 eggs, lightly whisked
- 1 cup plain bread crumbs
- About 2 cups vegetable oil for frying
- 4 bolillo or telera rolls
- 4 leaves Romaine lettuce, torn
- 1 avocado, pitted and flesh scooped out, cut into thin slices
- 1/2 white onion, thinly sliced
- 12 pickled jalapeños, stemmed, seeded, cut into 1/4-inch slices
- 2 limes, cut into wedges
For the Chipotle Mayonnaise: In a medium-sized bowl, combine the minced chipotle chile, lime juice, and mayonnaise. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.
For the Torta: Pat the pork cutlets dry and season with salt and pepper. Add flour to one plate or shallow pie pan, eggs to second, and bread crumbs to third. Take one cutlet and toss it in the flour until covered. Shake off any excess, and dip the cutlet in the whisked egg. Let the excess drip back into the bowl, and then toss the cutlet in the breadcrumbs, pressing down on the breadcrumbs so it is completely covered. Repeat process with remaining cutlets.
In a large cast-iron skillet, pour in enough oil to come 1/2-inch up the sides. Heat over medium-high heat until it reaches 350°F. Add as many of the breaded cutlets as will fit in a single layer. Cook until golden brown, two to three minutes a side. Adjust the heat as necessary to maintain the temperature. Drain the cutlets on paper towels. Repeat process with any remaining cutlets.
Cut the rolls in half horizontally, and use your fingers to remove some of the soft insides. Spread some of the chipotle mayonnaise on the cut side of both the top and the bottom slices of each roll. Add the cooked cutlets on top of the bottom slices, and top each with a quarter of the lettuce, avocado, onion, and pickled jalapeno. Cap each with the top slice. Serve with sandwiches with lime wedges.