Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Part 8 Mexican (Tortas) Cuisine

I'm not sure about the rest of the world but "Sandwiches" are a big thing in the USA.  I believe many (at least Americans) will be surprised to find out that "Mexican Cuisine" is big on sandwiches too.  They are called "Tortas" or "Torta de something" depending on the filling that is used.

I believe most people thought they only used tortillas in Mexico to tacos and the like.  In fact, I'm sure everyone thought the taco was the sandwich of Mexico.

But they make breads in Mexico too.  The type used for tortas is a "Bolillo or Telera" which are a type of roll.  If you can't find them in your area, try using ciabatta rolls, French bread or even Italian bread as a good substitute.

The best way to describe a "Tortas" is to say they are very much like an American sandwich only they use traditional Mexican ingredients inside them.   They will be made with all the different types, styles and flavors of meats throughout Mexico.  Just as in the USA, different regions have different favorite ingredients too.

The condiments or garnishes used again are of typical Mexican items.  The only essential ingredient for a torta is refried beans and chiles.  Others that are common include avocados, onions, tomatoes and some type of cheese.  I guess there is one other ingredient they like to use.  Instead of mayonnaise that many other countries will use, they use crème fraiche or heavy cream.  Usually on the top half of the bun (the refried beans always goes on the bottom part.

"Crème Fraiche" is actually French but they did have their influence of Mexico too.  If you can't find crème fraiche in the store, you could make your own.  It is similar to sour cream in thickness but is sweet, nutty and yet slightly sour.

To make a cup of your own crème fraiche just use equal amounts of sour cream and whipping cream.  Another way is to add 3 tbsp. of buttermilk to 1 cup of heavy whipping cream, cover and let stand for 12 hours.

You could just use mayonnaise or even mash up an avocado and spread it on the bread.

Tortas can be served cold or warm.  You could toast the bread first in desired.  You can even use a sandwich press or fry pan with a weight to grill the sandwich.  And don't think they can't match the French Dip sandwich too.  Instead of dipping their sandwich into au jus as with the French Dip, they like to dip into different types of chili sauces (green and red).

They are popular because they can be wrapped and hand-carried for events such as bullfights, football (soccer) matches, concerts or wherever street vendors operate.  Tortas are also good for any of the 3 traditional meals of breakfast, lunch and dinner.  In fact, in Northern Mexico they are referred to as "Lonche" which  relates to eating on your lunch break.

The "Torta" recipes this week are for a "Pork Tortas" on Wednesday and a "Ham & Cheese Tortas" on Thursday.  I hope you will try these and others as you have the opportunity.  They are big in California and the Southwest USA.  So if you are in the region, hunt them out.

For that matter, come up with your own tortas and let me know how they turned out.  "Happy Cooking" until next week and please share my food blog with family and friends.  Thanks.

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