Yep. You read that right. Spam Torta. I went there. It’s about to get deliciously controversial.
Spam is one of those polarizing ingredients that people either love or hate, kind of like cilantro. I hope you fall into the love camp, because Spam is right at home on a torta.
What is this torta thing you speak of? Essentially it’s a sandwich, only it’s much more than just a sandwich. Picture a plate of Mexican food, like carnitas with all the fixings. You’ve got meat, refried beans, lettuce. And likely sour cream, pico de gallo, pickled jalapenos, avocado. Got it? Now, picture all that on a sandwich. A big, messy, flavorful Mexican sandwich.
Refried beans on a sandwich!? YES. It’s indescribably good and whoever thought of it deserves to have a parade thrown in his or her honor.
Spam, the can-shaped ham, somewhat questionable upon being released from its iconic rectangular container, is transformed into something truly special upon slicing thin and frying to a perfect crisp. It is these beautifully crisp, salty slices of Spam that make this torta so special. Traditional tortas often come topped with sliced griddled hot dogs. So I figure topping a torta with Spam isn’t that much of stretch, just a Minnesotan Spam-loving variation.
Tortas are typically served on bolillo rolls, like this guy. Kind of looks like a football.
After slicing the roll open, butter and lightly toast the cut sides in a pan, and then prepare for assembly. Swipe some crema (or sour cream) on one side, and slather a generous scoop of refried beans on the other. I recommend making my Easy Seasoned Refried Beans for this glorious Spam Torta-making endeavor.
Assemble. Spam, lettuce, tomato, cheese, pickled jalapenos.
Close. Prepare yourself for a large, messy bite.
Salty-crispy-fatty Spam paired with fresh lettuce and tomato, dreamy refried beans, spicy but not too spicy pickled jalapenos and cooling crema and cheese, sandwiched between fluffy, slightly crusty buns. It’s indulgent but doesn’t weigh you down (read: your stomach won’t hate you later).
This is all kinds of wrong (i.e., untraditional, inauthentic, bastardized cuisine, dear Lord there’s Spam in it), but this Spam Torta is so delicious I don’t want to be right.
If you want to learn more about tortas, namely all of the delicious ways you can eat them, I highly recommend Tacos, Tortas, and Tamales by Roberto Santibañez (affiliate link).
- 1 bolillo roll*
- 3-4 slices of Spam, cut about ¼ inch thick
- 1 tablespoon of
- 1 generous spoonful (or two) of refried beans
- 3-4 slices of a medium to large sized tomato, thinly sliced
- Romaine lettuce
- A few slices of cheese (I used Manchego)
- 4-5 pickled jalapeno slices
There’sno hard and fast instructions for assembly, but here’s how I did it.
- Fry the slices of Spam in a pan over medium heat, until you’ve achieved the desired level of crispness. Two to three minutes per side is usually sufficient.
- Remove Spam slices from pan and let cool on paper towels.
- Slice the bolillo roll in half and butter the cut sides.**
- Place cut sides down in the pan, still on medium heat, and lightly toast. You want it to get a little color, but not be super crisp like toast.
- Remove from heat. Slather some refried beans (either cool or heated) on one side of the roll. Slather some
cremaon the other half.
- Layer the Spam, Romaine lettuce, tomato, pickled jalapenos, and cheese on that roll (in whatever order strikes your fancy).
- Close that torta up and dive right in.
**You can also remove some of the bread from each cut side prior to toasting to accommodate more filling.
Feel free to get creative with your torta fillings! Avocado, pickled onion, black olives, or even rice would be great additions. Same with the cheese, use anything you'd like such as cheddar or provolone.