Torta Ahogada

Torta Ahogada

Torta ahogada, which translates to drowned sandwich, is a staple across Guadalajara, Mexico. Birote salado is the bread typically used for this stuffed, smothered sandwich, partly because its salty sourdough flavor complements the fillings, but mostly because its crunchy exterior stands up well to ladles of hot salsa. If you’re not able to get your hands on birote salado, you can substitute bolillo or a French baguette. The options for fillings are endless, and this version with creamy puréed pinto beans is ideal for a meatless meal. If you happen to have mushrooms, you can sauté them and add them to this torta for an extra-filling dish.
  • Total:
  • Serves: 4 persons



  1. Step 1

    Make the salsa: Combine the chiles, onion, garlic and tomatoes with 1 cup water and a generous pinch of salt in a medium saucepan. Set over medium-low heat and simmer until the chiles are rehydrated and the other ingredients have softened, 15 to 20 minutes.
  2. Step 2

    Transfer to a blender or food processor along with the apple cider vinegar (reserve the saucepan) and blend until completely smooth. Return salsa to the saucepan and simmer over medium-low heat for 15 minutes to marry all the flavors. Taste for salt and adjust as needed.
  3. Step 3

    Meanwhile, prepare the onion: Toss the onion with the lemon juice, red-pepper flakes and a pinch of salt in a bowl. Let stand for at least 15 minutes.
  4. Step 4

    Meanwhile, make the tortas: Combine the beans, red-pepper flakes, cumin, 1 cup water and a pinch of salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat and cook until heated through, 10 to 15 minutes. Once hot, carefully pour the mixture into the same blender or food processor used for the salsa (no need to wash in between uses) and blend until smooth.
  5. Step 5

    Heat a broiler to medium with a rack placed 6 inches from the heat source. To warm and crisp the bread, place the bread halves on a baking sheet cut sides down and broil until warmed through and slightly crusty on the outside, 2 to 3 minutes. Assemble the dish by spreading a thick layer of salsa on each of 4 serving dishes. Place the bottom pieces of bread on the salsa cut sides up and divide the beans, onion and bread tops among them. Ladle the remaining salsa over the sandwiches until they’re completely soaked. Garnish with cilantro sprigs and lemon wedges, and serve.