Tortas Ahogadas

Tortas Ahogadas

Drowned Tortas
8 to 10 Servings
Pati Jinich
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: Ahogadas, Carnitas, Mexican, Salsa, Sandwich, Tomato, Torta
Author:Pati Jinich
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Tortas Ahogadas, or drowned tortas, recipe from Pati's Mexican Table Season 7, Episode 2 "Tijuana: Stories from the Border"


To make the tomato salsa:

  • 1 1/2 pounds ripe Roma tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/4 cup chopped white onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt, or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 cups chicken broth or water, more or less to taste

To make the spicy salsa:

  • 5 to 8 chiles de arbol, stemmed, more or less to taste
  • 1 pound ripe Roma tomatoes
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped white onion
  • 2 tablespoons white distilled vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt, or to taste
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

To assemble:

To Prepare

To make the tomato salsa:
  • Place all the tomatoes, garlic, onion, marjoram, oregano, cloves, salt, and pepper into the jar of a blender and puree until completely smooth.
  • Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Once very hot, but not smoking, pour in the tomato sauce. Cover partially with a lid and cook for 5 minutes, until the sauce thickens and seasons. Add the chicken broth, stir, and cook a couple minutes more. Turn off the heat and set aside.
To make the spicy salsa:
  • Heat a comal or skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add the chiles de arbol, and toast for about 1 minute, flipping them around as they do. Remove and set aside.
  • Place the tomatoes and garlic in a saucepan, cover with water, and place over medium-high heat. Simmer for about 10 minutes, until the tomatoes are cooked and mushy. Using a slotted spoon or tongs, transfer the tomatoes and garlic to the jar of a blender, along with a cup of their cooking liquid, the toasted chiles de arbol (you can add gradually if you choose), onion, vinegar, cumin and salt. Puree until completely smooth. Taste for vinegar, salt and heat, and adjust accordingly.
  • Heat the oil in saucepan over medium heat. Once hot, add the pureed sauce, partially cover, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until thickened, darkened and seasoned.
To assemble the tortas ahogadas:
  • Have the warm carnitas shredded, the bread lightly toasted and the salsas heated.Slice the birotes to create a pocket for the filling, without cutting all the way through. One at a time, with the opening towards the ceiling, tuck in copious amounts of carnitas. Cut in half, place in a soup bowl or deep plate that can withhold sauces. Pour the tomato sauce on top first, and then ladle on as much spicy sauce as each guest desires.

43 comments on “Tortas Ahogadas

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  1. I just made this recipe today. Delicious! The carnitas were how i broke in my new Staub Dutch oven. The contrast between the sweet, fatty, meaty carnitas, the crunchy bread and the spicy and tomatoey sauces- superb! I would gladly make again when i can have a party after quarantine.

    I love your show, Pati. You seem like such a kind, genuine person and all of your food looks delicious. I look forward to trying more of your recipes. Salud!

    1. Thanks so much Mike, glad to hear you enjoyed these tortas. Stay tuned because the new season will start airing this Fall 😉

  2. Hola Pati! soy Diana de San Diego. en estos tiempos, acabo de descubrir tu show en Twitch, en el canal llamado Hungry. muchos de nosotros te queremos mucho y cuando empiezan tus episodios nos ponemos muy felices. we love your skills and your personality!
    hace unos dias, me toco ver el episodio de Tijuana! <3 yo nunca habia aprendido de carnitas hechas en leche. me quedé fascinada, porque mi familia (mis abuelos eran de Jalisco y Durango) jamás mencionaron algo sobre este estilo de carnitas. me encanta hacer carnitas en la casa, y ahora, no puedo esperar hasta que me toque prepararlas de esta manera.
    nunca me ha gustado el pan empapado, pero las tortas ahogadas se ven tan ricas, y las haces ver tan fáciles y exquisitas, que me atrevo a intentarlas. yo se que a mi viejo le van a encantar.
    nomas queria mandar saludos y mucho amor! gracias por enseñarnos a todos sobre la comida de nuestra gente! we love you! <3

    1. Muchisimas gracias Diana por tomarte el tiempo para escribir este mensaje tan lindo, te lo agradezo muchisimo! La cosa con las tortas ahogadas es que el birote tiene una costra dura que no se moja rapidamente con las salsas asi que te puedes comer la torta sin que el pan se ponga aguado. Muchas gracias de nuevo!

  3. Great carnitas !!! I made my salsa with beer instead of the water and not so much vinegar!!!

    Hit the spot just like Monterrey !!!

    1. Hi Emily, chile de arbol can be very spicy, so start with half a teaspoon, taste and add a bit more if needed 😉

  4. I loved watching your show! I live in the Southeast, but recently visited San Diego in May, and just love the authentic Mexican cuisine. Since I mainly cook for one, can you tell me if the sauces will keep well in the fridge and for how long?

  5. Pati,
    I just love your recipes, and Mexican cuisine is my absolute favorite having lived most of my life in the southwest. BUT….. I was recently diagnosed with “fructose malabsorbtion” which means I have to follow what is called a FODMOP diet – this means no onions or garlic! And I have multiple other allergies. I have been starving now for months. But having seen you cook this on TV, I got inspired.

    I tried this recipe with some major modifications, but it worked, and was deeeeelicious. So for any of your fans who face the food allergy challenges like I do, perhaps this might inspire them as well. Hhere is what I did.
    –I combined the two sauces into one modified version.
    –I started with the tomato salsa – but eliminated the garlic, onion and cloves.
    –I added one jalapeno (stemmed and seed) chopped
    –I used lime juice instead of vinegar
    –I added the cumin (I like to grind whole cumin)
    –I added a garlic infused oil to a pan, and sautéed 1 tsp of asafoetida spice
    –I then added the salsa to the hot pan
    –I did not add the chicken broth (store bought includes onions and garlic, can’t have that)
    –I cooked for about 10 minutes, and it was great.

    It’s not quite the two sauce recipe you present, but for we with severe allergies, this was sheer heaven.

    Thanks so much.

    1. KStarr that is amazing that you did that! I am so glad that you can enjoy Pati’s great recipes and be creative enough to figure out the changes that are as close to Pati’s as possible. Way to go!! Wishing all the best in your health and healing!

  6. Tortas ahogadas are one of my husbands favorite foods And I love that I am able to spoil him with these! This recipe turned out great and everyone loved them.
    My husband is a first generation Mexican immigrant so discovering your show and website has been amazing for our family. I am now able to confidently cook some of his favorite foods from childhood which also gives us more opportunities to immerse our children in that part of their heritage.
    Thank you so much for everything you do.

    1. I’m beyond happy to hear this, Stefaney. I hope you guys love lots more recipes and enjoy exploring your heritage through food.

  7. Hola hermosa Pati, hoy he mirado tu programa en el restaurante Tio Pepe y como preparaste las carnitas ademas del todo el proceso para las tortas ahogadas.. Me he inscrito en tu página para aprender y satisfacer a mi familia.. Pero no he encontrado como preparaste la carne.. Me ayudas con esa parte? Gracias mi admiración y respeto para ti.. Felicidades por todo tu trabajo. DTB

  8. I cannot eat dairy. Do you have a substitute which would still carameliza and tenderize the pork? Is it the lactic acid and the milk sugars which accomplish this?

    Help, please.