Black Bean-Chorizo Subs
Aka, Tortas de Chorizo y Frijoles Negros. Yep, Monday was Cinco de Mayo! Perfect time to celebrate Mexican culture, and what better place to do that than la cocina? After all, Mexican is one of my top favorite cuisines, so no excuse to cook it is too flimsy.
Rick Bayless’s recipes are so good that his books have a place in my heart despite the fact that we can’t ever get into one of his restaurants. Every time we’ve gone to Chicago we’ve tried, but both the Frontera Grill and Topolobampo were always slammed. I mean, slammed as in we couldn’t get reservations two months ahead of time. The closest we’ve ever gotten is eating in a different restaurant, Ixcapuzalco, which was started by former Frontera chef Geno Bahena. (It was wonderful.) But, despite our being dissed by his reservations book, I’ll forgive Mr. Bayless. Especially after trying his recipe for tortas.
I found it in his terrific book, Mexican Everyday. The premise of this cookbook is authentic Mexican cuisine, made lighter and quicker. No lists of forty ingredients and three days prep. Not that I mind that. It can be fun. There’s nothing like putting on some R & B and settling in to make mole out of a huge pile of dried chiles. But for days when that isn’t fun or there isn’t time, the recipes in this book are perfect.
Tortas are Mexican subs. Crusty rolls, refritos, meat if you like, avocado, cheese, salsa or chiles…what’s not to love? There are all sorts of variations, but that list comprises what Mr. Bayless considers the “basic architecture” of the torta. I certainly can’t argue with such a list, and because I had no argument, I followed his recipe to the letter. (I know, that rarely happens!)
You can use a good bottled salsa, or make Roasted Tomatillo Salsa, as I did. It’s worth making and doesn’t take as long as you probably think it’s going to (I know how y’all are). Great flavor, and if you use a couple of serranos and leave the seeds in, it’s got a serious, delicious burn.
This was quite possibly the messiest sandwich either of us has ever eaten. And one of the best. The recipe is generous, too. I cut it in half for the two of us, and we still had enough left for a second dinner. (Yes, on another day–we’re not that bad!) The perfect accompaniment was cut mango with lime and a bit of brown sugar.
Happy, happy. I think I need another Mexican holiday next week!
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