Sunday Supper: Grilled Poblano and Chicken Tortas

My love for tortas started out with a mistake. A wonderful, tasty mistake.

At a beloved hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurant, I quickly perused the menu that lacked descriptions, and hastily ordered a torta (my foggy mid-workday brain translated it as “tostada” that day). Instead of a salad, a sandwich was placed in front of me. Chicken grilled to perfection, creamy guacamole, melted cheese… and ohhhh, the bread. Bolillo or telera rolls are traditionally used for these Mexican sandwiches– crusty on the outside, chewy on the inside (like any good bread), with just enough heft to hold all the stuffins. And, like any good sandwich, the possibilities for a torta are endless.

sf-tortas01 sf-tortas02 sf-tortas03And, of course, no meal is complete without a cold beverage to wash it all down…

Grilled Poblano and Chicken Tortas
(Adapted from SF Gate)
Makes 4 sandwiches

4 poblano chile peppers, halved, stemmed and seeded
4 to 6 boneless skinless chicken cutlets ( 1/4- to 1/2-inch thick, about 1 1/2 pounds total)
3 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
Juice of 2 limes, divided
4 bolillos, telera, or other soft rolls, split lengthwise down the middle
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, minced
2 ounces queso fresco, crumbled
1 large or two small ripe avocados, pitted and sliced thin
1/4 red onion, sliced very thin

Combine 2 tbsp olive oil, chili powder, cumin, and juice of 1 lime. Add chicken, cover, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour to marinate.

Meanwhile, combine mayonnaise and minced chipotle peppers in a small bowl. Set aside.

Preheat the grill to medium-high.

Place the peppers and the chicken on two separate plates. Rub the peppers with 1 tablespoon of the oil, and season generously with salt and pepper. Season the chicken with salt and pepper as well.

Grill the peppers cut side up for about 10 minutes, then flip and continue to cook on the other side for about 5 minutes more. On another portion, grill the chicken for about 5 minutes on each side until cooked through. Remove from the grill and set aside. Let chicken rest for ten minutes, then cut into 1/2-inch thick slices.

To assemble the sandwiches, spread chipotle mayo on the bottom half of each roll, then sprinkle with queso fresco. Layer the avocado, chicken, poblanos, and red onions on top of the cheese, then squeeze the juice of the remaining lime over the onions. Place the top half of the roll onto the sandwich, serve immediately, and enjoy!


Sunday Supper: Sweet Potato Cakes with Sour Cream and Chipotle Black Bean Salsa

Sometimes, I like to eat appetizers for dinner. Sometimes a lot. Nothing wrong with that, right? I recently stumbled upon this recipe and just had to try it right away. I knew it would be good. But I was surprised at how ridiculously good it actually was– there’s something about the sweetness of the potatoes, the crunchy spicy freshness of the salsa, and the cool, smooth bit of sour cream that just goes together so well. Try it, and I promise you won’t be disappointed!

Sweet Potato Cakes with Sour Cream and Chipotle Black Bean Salsa
(Courtesy of lisa is cooking)
Makes 34 small cakes

For the sweet potato cakes:
2 lb sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into large chunks
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
5 green onions, both white and green parts, finely chopped
4-6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4-6 tbsp butter

Steam the sweet potato chunks for 15-20 minutes until completely tender, and then transfer to a colander and allow to drain until dry. Once very dry, place sweet potato chunks in a large mixing bowl and mash with a potato masher to break up chunks. Add flour and finely chopped green onions, and mix with your hands to form a smooth batter. Using your hands here is best so that it doesn’t become over mixed. In a food processor, the sweet potato mixture could quickly become gummy. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper if needed. Once the mixture is smooth, and the flour and green onions are mixed in, you’re ready to fry. Note: the mixture should be sticky but not wet, so more flour may be needed.

In a non-stick skillet, heat two tablespoons extra virgin olive oil and two tablespoons butter over medium-high heat. Form round, flat cakes from about two tablespoons of batter per cake, and fry four or five at a time for three minutes per side until golden. Transfer finished cakes to a paper towel-lined baking sheet to drain and cool. Add more oil and butter to pan between batches as needed, and continue frying a few cakes at a time until all are ready for their toppings.

For the black bean salsa:
16 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
1-2 chipotles in adobo, finely chopped
1 small, yellow bell pepper, small diced
¼ cup finely minced red onion
¼ cup cilantro leaves, chopped
Juice of 1 lime
¼ tsp salt

Combine all salsa ingredients, starting with one chipotle, in a small bowl and stir to combine. Taste for chipotle heat and add more if desired, and taste for seasoning and add more salt if needed. Salsa can be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator.

To assemble for serving:
½ cup sour cream

Place sweet potato cakes on a serving platter and add a small dollop of sour cream to each. Top sour cream with a small spoonful of black bean salsa, and enjoy!