Torta is a Spanish word, which depending on the Spanish speaking country, can mean either cake, a flat bread, or sandwich. As you can see I’m talking about a sandwich. In Mexico tortas are very popular meals. They can be served cold or hot, wet in a sauce, dry or grilled. The ingredients are as simple as beans, ham and cheese, scrambled eggs, or heartier ingredients like the milanesa you see here. In Mexican Spanish milanesa means a breaded and fried cutlet. The cutlet can be either beef, pork or chicken.
The cutlet is much the same as an Autrian or German Schnitzel and a Czech smažený řízek. From our travels around central and Eastern Europe we’ve learned that breaded and fried cutlets are a popular meal around the region and beyond. In fact it was the Central and Eastern Europeans who introduced the cutlets to Latin America. Of course over time the cutlets evolved according to local cuisine and ingredients. In my family milanesa means a pork cutlet, but unlike the European versions our cutlets are served as a sandwich.
When I think about, or cook, tortas it always transports me to my family’s Mexican hometown. Down the street from our house was the best torta place in town. Well, at least we thought it was the best place in town. I remember watching the cafe attendant spread cream on the bread then smoosh it down onto the flat grill. Sometimes he would drizzle the juice from pickled jalapeños onto the bread, then he’d add the rest of the ingredients, close the sandwich and continue grilling. In the end his tortas were flat like a panini. After my family moved away to the states and we went back on holiday, we always ate tortas there. They were seriously the best tortas ever. In fact they were so good that when my mother visited, without us children, she would bring us back those tortas. My next visit I hopethe cafe is still be there so I can take my husband for a torta or two.
The first time I made tortas de milanesa for my husband he loved them and you could even say became addicted to them. He is always open to trying some new Mexican dish and when he loves the ones I grew up with, or those that hold special memories for me, well that makes me love him even more. There is just something so deeply gratifying about seeing your better half enjoy something as much as you. Wouldn’t you agree?
The recipe is quite simple and can be adjusted according to taste or what you have in the refrigerator. The bread I used is Mexican bolillo bread, they are homemade but it is not my recipe. The bolillo recipe can be found here, http://cookingwithmarriedtoamexican.blogspot.cz/2009/03/bolillos.html.
- 2-3 pork cutlets or thinly sliced lean piece of pork*
- ½ cup breadcrumbs
- ½ tsp granulated garlic
- salt and ground black pepper
- 1-2 large eggs
- oil for frying
- refried beans
- Mexican crema or sour cream
- queso fresco or substitute with feta
- sliced onions
- radish slices
- tomato slices
- hot sauce or salsa of choice
- bolillos or telera or birote Mexican breads**
- Mix breadcrumbs with garlic, salt and pepper until well combined, set aside. In a separate bowl lightly beat egg(s) and set aside. Tenderize pork into a thin piece, cut away any excess fat. Dip the tenderized cutlets into the beaten egg, coat on both sides. Dredge the cutlets into breadcrumbs until coated well on both sides.
- Line a plate with paper towels and set aside. Heat about ½ cup of sunflower, or vegetable oil. Once it reaches 175c or 350c fry the cutlets until crispy and brown. Allow to cool before assembling.
- Cut bread lengthwise, spread refried beans on one half and cream on the other. Place cooled cutlet ontop of refried beans, and add all or any of the suggested toppings.
Being that the weekend starts today this would be a perfect meal to prepare. Just make yourself a torta, crack a cold bottle of your favorite drink and enjoy your dinner. If you can sit outside then even better. Have a great Friday and weekend everyone! I’ll see you Sunday for another edition of Sunday Snapshots. Buen provecho! (bon appetite)