Torta Ahogada (drowned sandwich)


to serve:
4 long rolls with hard outer crusts (pan salado or other crusty bread with a soft center)
1 1/2 cup Old El Paso Traditional Refried Beans
1 medium white onion, sliced into thin rings

for the pork:
1 onion, cut into rings
3 lb boneless pork roast
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried minced onion
1 teaspoon ancho chile powder
1/2 teaspoon oregano

20 dried chiles de árbol (stems and seeds removed)
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds)
1/2 medium onion
3 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon dried oregano
8 oz no salt added tomato sauce
freshly ground black pepper

Line the bottom of a 4 quart slow cooker insert with the onion rings. In a small bowl, whisk together the garlic powder, minced onion, ancho chile and oregano. Rub into all sides of the pork roast. Place in the slow cooker over the onions. Cook on low 8 hours. Cube or shred the pork. Broil for 5-10 minutes or until crisped around the edges.

Soak the dried chiles in 3 cups boiling water. Soak for 10-15 minutes or until Drain, reserving the liquid. Add the chiles and remaining sauce ingredients to a blender. Pulse until smooth, adding chile liquid as needed to thin the mixture.

Heat the refried beans in a small pan. Spread a small amount of the beans on both sides of the bread. Fill with pork. Top with sliced onion. Close the sandwich and pour the sauce over the top. Eat quickly!

My thoughts:

Old El Paso challenged me to come up with a new and exciting way to use their classic refried beans. I didn’t want to take the easy way out and make dip or tacos so I made one of my favorite Mexican sandwiches, torta ahogada. The name literally means “drowned sandwich” and it is adpt. You basically take a meat-filled sandwich and drench it with sauce. Then eat it with your hands. It isn’t pretty but it is delish.

Traditionally the sandwich is served with your choice of salsa dulce or salsa enchilosa. Salsa dulce really isn’t sweet but it is tempered by tomato sauce while salsa enchilosa is straight chile. I went the dulce route but rest assured, the sauce is still pretty hot but the pepitas and tomato sauce both thicken it and keep it from scorching your mouth.  I truly can’t articulate how tasty this sandwich this is. The pork is melt-in-your mouth tender with slight crispy bits reinstatement of real carnitas. The refried beans act as sort of a barrier to keep the sauce from turning the sandwich into total mush although the long it takes you to eat the sandwich, the softer and messier it gets. The sandwich is a snap to make as well. The pork cooks all day in the slow cooker, the sauce takes about 20 seconds to make in the blender and the broiling/reheating the beans is simple and can be done simutaiously. Perfect for a special weeknight dinner.


  1. In Chicago there is a Rick Bayless restaurant called Xoco that has a Torta Ahogada that is FANTASTIC. Now I can make it at home. THANKS!

  2. Enjoy! I don't think any where here in Baltimore makes it so I was excited to figure out how to make my own!