This sandwich is more than just an assemblage of ingredients. It is an assemblage of memories. I’ve been conceptualizing tis sandwich for a decade.
I'd like to say that this concoction was inspired by my time in Mexico, but it wasn't. It was the intersection of North Avenue and Bloomingdale Road in the Western suburbs of Chicago that brought this dish to fruition.
On that corner there is a Portillo's and an El Famous Burrito. After my first 8 year stint in Mexico, upon my return home I went to that corner twice a week. A craving for Mexican food or an Italian Beef became part of my routine. Past and present was a blurred line.
*I am extremely homesick right now.
If you know Chicago Cuisine, you know the Italian Beef. If you've spent any time in Guadalajara, you know the Torta Ahogada. CHI, (Chicago) + GADA, (Ahogada). CHI-N-GADA guey!
*If you speak Spanish, especially Mexican Spanish you understand this word on another level.
It is a fun play on words, sure. These 2 staples of food correlate well though.
The Italian Beef is slow roasted top round with Italian herbs on soft Italian bread. Additions would be sweet peppers or Giardiniera or mozzarella.
The Torta Ahogada is slow roasted meat on salty crunchy bollio, drenched in a light tomato sauce. Additions would be a scorching chili sauce.
My version brings these two iconic sandwiches together.
-Slow roasted top round with Italian herbs and spicy Mexican chili peppers.
-Bollio instead of Italian bread. The crunch is nice and mellows out when drenched in the jus.
-Escabeche instead of Giardiniera.
-Queso Oaxaca instead of Mozzarella.