By MARY G. PEPITONE | Star
Adrian Bermudez of Kansas City, Kan., has combined his love of Kansas City barbecue with his Mexican roots to create a fusion he calls “Mexi-Q.”
Almost a year ago, Bermudez, his wife, Eloisa, and their three boys started taking his food to the streets in a food truck to create a bustling business called Indios Carbonsitos. While Bermudez sells tacos, gorditas, smoked brisket, pork loin sandwiches and Mexican-style burgers, his best-seller is a lucky $7 Tortas Ahogadas.
“Ahogada means ‘drowned,’ which is how you describe this sandwich after all the sauce goes in and on it,” he says. “This dish originated in Guadalajara, Mexico, and I immediately fell in love with it when we went to visit family members there many years ago. I must have eaten at least 10 tortas ahogadas in the time we were there.”
Bermudez makes his own refried beans and starts his sauce from fresh tomatoes. To soak up the authenticity and atmosphere of eating his smothered spicy pork sandwich, follow Indios Carbonsitos on Facebook or Twitter.
Tortas Ahogadas (or Drowned Sandwiches)
Makes 8 sandwiches
1 (3-pound) pork roast
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon chili seasoning
1 bay leaf
1 (14.5-ounce) can low-sodium chicken stock
2 (15-ounce) cans tomato sauce
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons salt, divided
2 teaspoons black pepper
6 teaspoons ground oregano
6 garlic cloves, finely minced
4 teaspoons white vinegar
2 cups water
1 white onion, finely minced
4 chile de árbol peppers, less if you prefer a milder sauce
1 (16-ounce) can refried beans
8 bolillos, or French rolls, split length-wise, leaving a “hinge” on one side (see note)
2 red onions, thinly sliced
2 avocados, each pitted, peeled, cut into 8 slices
4 limes, each cut into 4 wedges
Cayenne pepper, if desired
To prepare the pork carnitas: In a large sauté pan, brown the outside of pork roast in canola oil over medium-high heat. Transfer browned pork roast into the crock of a slow cooker. Sprinkle cumin, black pepper, chili seasoning and bay leaf over meat. Pour chicken stock over all.
Cover with lid and cook on low heat setting for 8 to 10 hours. Remove lid and shred pork with two forks, taking care to remove any visible fat before shredding. Replace lid and allow meat to cook in juices for another hour.
To prepare the sauce: Pour tomato sauce into a saucepan and season with cumin, 1 teaspoon salt, black pepper, oregano and garlic cloves. Simmer over low heat slowly for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
While sauce is simmering, pour vinegar and water into a separate saucepan. Add minced onion and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove from heat, add peppers and allow to steep for 15 minutes, or until the water turns a reddish-brown color.
Transfer contents of saucepan with peppers to the bowl of a blender and season with remaining 1 teaspoon salt. Blend mixture until it becomes smooth and add to simmering tomato sauce mixture. Simmer an additional 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
To assemble the sandwich: Place refried beans in a microwave-safe dish and heat in microwave until warmed through. Spread warmed beans along the inside bottom of cut bread. Using tongs, add about 1/3-pound of prepared pork carnitas on top of beans. Ladle sauce over meat and garnish with sliced onion and 2 avocado slices. Squeeze a wedge of lime over all. Close sandwich and place on serving plate. Ladle more sauce on top of sandwich until it runs onto the plate. Top sandwich with more onions and garnish with additional lime wedge. Sprinkle cayenne pepper on top for maximum heat, if desired. Repeat process using the remaining ingredients.
Note: A bolillo roll is the traditional bread on which a tortas ahogadas is served. Bolillo rolls resemble a football. Bermudez buys his bread at Osuna Bakery in Kansas City, Kan.
Per sandwich: 611 calories (43 percent of calories from fat), 30 grams total fat (8 grams saturated), 84 milligrams cholesterol, 52 grams carbohydrates, 38 grams protein, 1,741 milligrams sodium, 9 grams dietary fiber.