mexican tortas

In my youth (feels like another lifetime) I spent 7 months backpacking through Central America.  I have many fond memories of that time, but my best food memories are of exquisitely ripe fruit and incredibly toothsome sandwiches called tortas.  There’s nothing like a good sandwich.  And there’s no sandwich like a torta.

I’m not sure if there is a universally accepted ingredient list for tortas, but if my memory serves me, they almost always had beans, avocado and some protein.  Here is my humble version.  Even the finicky husband loved this one – impossible not to!


Mexican Tortas

serves 4


Marinated flank steak:
1 lb flank steak
3 tbs canola oil
3 tbs lime juice
1 tsp crushed red pepper
1 tsp salt
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 tbs liquid smoke
1 tbs ancho chili powder
1 tbs cumin
1 tsp coriander
1 tbs chopped fresh cilantro
2 smashed cloves garlic

refried black beans (canned beans work, but make these once and you’ll never go back!)
4 tbsp. mayonnaise
2 tsp chopped chipotle in adobo
1 head romaine lettuce
2 medium ripe tomatoes
2 avocados
pickled red onions (or thinly sliced red onion)
4 torta rolls (the ones pictured are ciabatta rolls, a true torta roll is crisp on the outside and soft on the inside like French bread….the ciabatta worked nicely, however 🙂

Marinate the flank steak:

  1. Put canola oil, lime juice, crushed red pepper, salt, black pepper, liquid smoke, ancho chile powder, cumin, coriander, fresh cilantro and garlic in a large zip-top bag.  Zip closed and mix thoroughly.
  2. Add the flank steak and close bag removing as much air as possible.
  3. “Massage” the marinade into the steak from the outside of the bag.
  4. Let steak marinade overnight in the fridge.  Flipping whenever you remember to flip it (hopefully at least once).

Making the flank steak:

  1. Heat a grill pan on high heat.  I have a fancy ceramic coated one that is non-stick.  If you’re using a cast iron or non-non-stick pan, add a little canola oil to keep steak from sticking.
  2. Add the flank steak and cook for about 1 minute.
  3. Turn the flank steak 90 degrees and cook on the same side for another minutes (to get impressive grill marks).
  4. Flip the steak over and cook for another minute before turning 90 degrees to create cool grill marks on the second side of the steak.
  5. Remove the steak to a plate, cover loosely with foil and let rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing thinly against the grain.

Making the tortas:

  1. While the steak is resting, make chipotle mayonnaise by mixing DSC_1806mayo and chipotle in adobo.  If, like me, you forget to defrost the chipotle, you can cheat by substituting 1.5 tsp chipotle powder which is just ground up dried chipotle.
  2. Slice roll in half, toast under oven broiler for 3 minutes or until warmed through.
  3. Generously cover one half of roll with refried beans and the other with the chipotle mayonnaise.
  4. Layer on avocado, tomato, lettuce and sliced flank steak.DSC_1817
  5. Top with pickled red onion (thinly sliced if you didn’t take the time to pickle)
  6. ENJOY one of the world’s most delicious sandwiches!

Mexican Torta