August 14, 2009
This may be my favorite sandwich of all time.
I mean, come on. Chipotle-and-honey-marinated pork tenderloin with spicy mayonnaise, melted cheese, pineapple, avocado, & cilantro clearly equals heaven.
Of course, I’m biased in favor of all things Mexican and Tex-Mex. It’s in my blood. My mother perfected the Blue Jean Gourmet margarita recipe while bartending in a Mexican restaurant in the seventies. My father, who worked for that chain of Mexican restaurants, took the three of us on a Texas road-trip for research purposes when I was a pre-teen; we ate our way through Dallas, Houston, & San Antonio, consuming tortilla after tortilla, trying salsa after salsa, and the night we arrived home in Memphis, decided to make—you guessed it!—Mexican food for dinner.
Now I live in Houston, where I’m lucky to have the chance to taste-test all kinds of Mexican and Tex-Mex food, from high-end, award-winning places to less-fancy-but-still-delicious taco trucks that line the city. And it was here in Houston, during college, that I fell in love with the cheap-but-filling tortas served up at this restaurant.
The torta is a Mexican-style sandwich, typically made on a crusty, baguette-type roll called a bolillo, with myriad possible fillings, including al pastor, or pork, which I did my best to recreate at home a few weeks ago.
Personally, I think this would make an excellent weekend sandwich, because it’s incredibly satisfying but not very fussy. Marinate the pork tenderloin ahead of time, grill it up outside and you won’t even have to heat up your house (bonus!)
While it’s cooking, prep your accoutrement and lay it all out so everyone can make his/her own sandwich. For an authentic accompaniment, try making elote with the last of sweet-summer corn. Mexico City without the plane ticket, my friends! Enjoy.
MEXICAN-STYLE PORK TENDERLOIN SANDWICH
bread (bolillo roll or baguette)
pork tenderloin (1 lb- 1 ½ lb)*
sliced cheese (Mexican-style cheeses with a sharp flavor that will melt well include queso quesadilla, asadero, or chihuahua. Substitute mild cheddar if you can’t find any of these)
To assemble, lay the split rolls on a baking sheet and place cheese on one side of each. Place under a low broiler or on the grill you just used to cook the pork until the cheese melts.
Slice up tenderloin to desired thickness & let everyone “have at” the sandwich making!
If you’ve never used chipotle peppers in adobo sauce before, PLEASE go out and buy a jar now (they’re cheap!) Chipotle peppers are simply smoked jalapeños but their flavor is amazing.
1 cup chipotle-flavored barbecue sauce
2 T honey
1 T chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
optional: I had an over-ripe peach which I peeled, pureed, & added to the marinade.
If you don’t have one on hand, throwing in some apricot preserves might make a nice counterpoint to the spice.
Grilling the tenderloin is easiest, searing it first on all sides over a medium-high flame, then moving it off the heat and letting it cook, grill cover down, for about 15 minutes. Bring the tenderloin inside and let it rest, covered in foil, before cutting into it.
If grilling is not an option, your best bet is to sear the tenderloin on your stovetop, in either a grill pan or other heavy-bottomed pan, then transfer the whole thing to a 425° oven for about 15-20 minutes.
This isn’t rocket science, really. Mayonnaise + fresh lime juice + a spoonful or two (depending on your heat tolerance) of chipotles in adobo. Annnnnnd done!
I’m an onion lover. Absolutely adore them any way they’re offered up, raw, grilled, pickled, fried. In fact, my mom used to tell me when I was little that I’d better marry someone who loved onions and garlic as much as I do, otherwise I’d have a problem. Thank goodness for Jill or I’d never get any kisses!
I know most people do not share my love of the onion. However, pickling red onion is a great way to take the “edge” off of the taste but add flavor & crunch to your sandwich. Pickled carrots, which you can also find pre-made on the same aisle as the chipotles in adobo, are a good alternative if you really just aren’t an onion fan.
Slice the desired amount of red onion thinly. Bring between ½ cup to 1 cup of white vinegar to a boil, then add an equal amount of white sugar and a pinch of salt. Add onions and remove from the heat. Toss in a little cilantro & a pinch of cumin. Let the onions sit in the liquid until ready to serve.