Unique Mexican torta smothered in sauce

March 2, 2011 9:41:23 AM PST
The flavors of Guadalajara, Jalisco, are on display with fervor at Leyenda de Mexico, a tiny, family-run taqueria in the Chicago Lawn neighborhood on the Southwest Side.

Their pride and joy is the torta ahogada - essentially, a smothered pork sandwich.

"It's made out of a pork butt and we marinate it and it gives it, once it's deep fried, it gives it that special taste. It's really crunchy, it's delicious," said Nancy Hernandez, the owner of La Leyenda de Mexico.

The pork is marinated in a number of dried chilies, including chipotles, plus cumin, black pepper and garlic. It's deep-fried, then cooled and heated on the grill to-order. Meanwhile, the complex sauce is slowly heated in a skillet; it contains those chipotles, plus arbol chiles, onions and tomatoes.

"The special ingredients that we put in there that makes it more spicier, the number one it's the chile de arbol. I mean without that it's not going to be the original, and it's not going to give it that taste," Hernandez said.

The sturdy loaf is spread with beans, then the heated pork goes on top. They sprinkle on some fresh cilantro, top the sandwich with freshly-chopped white onions, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, then thoroughly douse the sandwich in the warm, slightly spicy sauce.

"Once you try it I mean, yeah it's 0 degrees out there but once you try it, it's like wow you know it has that hot flaming spicy flavor that you're going to want more," said Hernandez.

Now the great thing about this torta is that it goes along with the theme here at La Leyenda, everything is less than 10 bucks. This enormous sandwich will run you just $4.50, how's that for a great feast this time of year?

In addition to the torta ahogada, the restaurant also has some specialties like marinated and grilled chicken, plus a fermented pineapple drink rarely found in other Mexican restaurants.

La Leyenda De Mexico
3211 W 59th St