Ancho Orange Pork Tortas

Hello! Cara here from Big Girls, Small Kitchen. Today, I’ve got this idea to take your favorite taco fillings–ancho-orange pork, for example–and transfer them to hearty sandwich rolls.

Full confession: this is not really my idea: a Mexican sandwich is already famous. It’s called a torta. One bite later, and you’ll see why the torta is a beloved street food and a great meal to add to your repertoire.

In this hearty version, you’ll roast a pork tenderloin. This is one of my favorite cuts of meat to make, because it’s easy to work with, quick to cook, and not too expensive. I flavor the pork by letting it enjoy some time in a marinade, one that’s scented with orange and made spicy with ancho chili powder. A touch of soy sauce, a surprise ingredient, ensures that the pork and the sandwich have plenty of umami flavor.

Ancho Orange Pork Tortas Ancho Orange Pork Tortas

After you’ve made the tenderloin and sliced it, you use your extra marinade, reduced, as a sauce for making sure the pork has enough flavor to stand up to the roll and the creamy accoutrements. Those accoutrements? All the good ones: avocado, mayonnaise, and queso fresco. On the other hand, the sandwich gets a last note of brightness and spiciness from easy quick-pickled jalapeños and fresh cilantro sprigs.

Ancho Orange Pork Tortas

Bring these to a picnic or eat them inside, cozied up with a bottle of Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Pinot Noir, whose fruitiness picks up the orange in the pork and whose smoothness balances out the spice from the anchos and the jalapeños.

Ancho Orange Pork Tortas
Serves: 4
For the pork:
  • ¾ pound pork tenderloin
  • Zest of ½ orange
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ancho chili powder
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
For the pickled jalapeños:
  • 2 jalapeños, sliced
  • ¼ small white onion, sliced
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup sugar
For the sandwiches:
  • 4 sandwich rolls
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • Lime juice
  • Salt
  • 1 avocado, pitted and sliced
  • A few sprigs cilantro
  • ½ cup queso fresco, crumbled (optional)
  1. Marinate the pork: In a small food processor, combine the orange zest and juice, salt, chili powder, brown sugar, garlic, soy sauce, and olive oil and pulse until smooth. Transfer the marinade to a resealable or a container with the lid. Add the pork and turn it over a few times tip coated Marinate in the refrigerator for at least an hour, preferably overnight.
  2. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Remove the pork from the marinade and set on a foil-lined baking sheet. Roast for 15 minutes, until the internal temperature is 150°F and the top is dry and slightly golden. Rest for 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, transfer the remaining marinade to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then turn the heat to low and cook until reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Slice the pork against the grain, then add to the sauce. Taste for salt, adding more if needed.
  4. While the pork is roasting, pickle the jalapeños. Place the sliced peppers and onions in a half-pint jar. Put the vinegar, ½ cup of water, salt, and sugar in a small pot. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Pour the brine over the pickles. Put on the lid and place on a towel in the fridge. You can eat these 20 minutes after making, but they keep for more than a week in the fridge if you want to make them ahead.
  5. Assemble the sandwiches: cut the rolls in half. Spread each bottom half generously with the mayo. Sprinkle on a little lime juice and some salt. Arrange one-quarter of the pork slices on top of the mayo. Top with the avocado, more lime and salt, and the cilantro. Finish with some of the pickled jalapeños and white onions. Sprinkle on the queso fresco, if using. Top with the roll. Cut in half and eat.