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Crispy Pambazos (...let's call it a cross between a Pambazo and a Torta)

Let me start out by sharing a little bit of Pambazo trivia.  The pambazo (a type of Mexican sandwich) takes its name from the bread it is traditionally made with...Pan Basso.  Basically a peasant bread that is very large and is chewier, or tougher and drier than a Bolillo or Telera bread.  Since the bread is "tougher", it holds up well to the bath it takes in a salsa made of chiles (traditionally Guajillos).  An honest to goodness Pambazo is made by dipping the bread in a chile sauce...all of the bread...bathed in salsa...then it is split down the middle and filled with a filling of papas con chorizo (potatoes and chorizo) and then lettuce, queso fresco, crema and cilantro are piled on top of that.  It is one big, glorious mess. 

While the Pambazo I am bringing you today is not traditional...it is delicious.  We started making Pambazos this way at home since we haven't been able to find any Pan Basso.  Of course, now that I write it out, it seems silly.  I mean, why don't I just find a recipe and make it myself, right?  One of these days.  Until then, we use either bolillos or telera bread...and these breads don't hold up to a salsa bath quite as well as the traditional bread does.  Meaning, when we immerse the whole thing in salsa, by the time we're halfway through our sandwiches, the bread is mush (annoying mush as opposed to the glorious sponge that is pan basso).  So.  We decided that instead of bathing our bread in a chile salsa, we would give it a sponge bath instead.  By making a chile paste and brushing the bread (inside and out) with it, we are able to obtain the messy hands and face that you look forward to accompanying the undertaking of a Pambazo while having our sandwich (basically) stay together.  Plus, we just like crisping up the crust. 

So, in essence, I suppose this is really a Pambazo-Torta hybrid.  Fill it with the traditional papas con chorizo or refried beans...or stack it with your personal favorite fillings.  This is a favorite combination in our house.
Crispy Pambazos
from the kitchen of girlichef
makes 4 sandwiches


for the arrachera:
1 lb. arrachera, run through jaccarder (skirt steak)
2-3 limes (scant ¼ c.), juiced
5 garlic cloves, pressed or minced very well (you want it juicy)
scant tsp. kosher salt

for the chile paste (makes 1 heaping cup):

6 pasilla chiles, stemmed
2 small tomato
3 garlic cloves, peeled
½ tsp. kosher salt

chorizo con frijoles negro:
8 oz. fresh chorizo
1½-2 c. cooked black beans

all the rest:
4 Bolillos (big ones)
butter, at room temp.
~6 oz. Queso Fresco, crumbled
few handfuls iceberg lettuce, shredded
2 tomatoes, sliced
2 avocados, sliced
Mexican Crema
½ bunch cilantro, chopped roughly
for the arrachera:
Separate the meat into ~10" sections.  It's easy if it's been run through the jaccarder...you can just rip it.  Place it in a gallon-size zippered baggie and add lime juice, garlic, and salt.  Smoosh it all around to coat the meat, seal the baggie and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes or up to an hour.  Preheat a grill, grill pan, or heavy skillet.  Add meat and turn when the bottom is beautifully browned.  Seriously, this can't really get "too" done.  It won't take too long, it's very thin...maybe 3 or 4 minutes per side...I love getting crispy bits here and there.  It will be packed with flavor and wonderfully "chewy".  I mean that in a good way.  Set aside.
for the chile paste:
Place chiles, tomato and garlic in a small pan and cover with water.  Bring to a simmer and let cook for ~5-6 minutes, or until everything is tender.  Transfer everything to the jar of a blender, using a slotted spoon to leave behind the water.  Add salt and blend.  You shouldn't need any extra water (there's plenty in the veggies...you're looking for a paste)...but by all means, add a dribble at a time if it won't move through the blender.  Set aside.  (You probably won't use all of this...but you can blend it up with some water and use it as salsa later.)

for the chorizo con frijoles negro:
Cook until chorizo is browned and cooked all the way through over medium heat, ~10 minutes.  If your chorizo is greasy, drain off all but a thin coating on the bottom of the pan.  Add the beans with a bit of their juices or some water (~¼ c.) and mash up with a potato masher.  Lower heat and cook over low until warm through and the flavors have combined, ~4-5 minutes.  (You probably won't use all of this, but it is excellent as a taco filling, or shmeared on tostadas...or my personal favorite, as a sope topping!)  Set aside.
to assemble and finish Pambazos:
Slice your bolillos open, lengthwise.  Preheat a heavy skillet or griddle over medium-low heat.  Spread a bit of butter on BOTH sides of EACH half.  Place cut and buttered sides down first (do this in batches, if necessary) and leave until golden, ~2-3 minutes.  Flip so buttered outsides are now down.  Brush a good layer of chile paste on the now golden cut sides.  Begin to layer your ingredients on the bottom halves of the bolillos...starting with a good layer of the chorizo-bean mixture.  Next, lay a quarter of the arrachera.  Sprinkle with a quarter of the queso, lettuce, tomato, and avocado.  Drizzle with as much crema as you'd like, then sprinkle with cilantro, to taste.  Place the "lid" on and then paint it with a good layer of chile paste...then flip it carefully (you may want to add another small pat of butter to the pan).  Now paint the bottom with a layer of chile paste.  Flip the Pambazo back over to cook the last side (recently "pasted" bottom) when the top has crisped up a bit.  It will look dark, but as long as you watch it, that's just the chile cooking...not burning.  However, DO watch it, because it can burn easily.  Once the bottom half is cooked the same way, lift from the skillet onto a platter or serving plate.  Cut in half carefully and serve with ice-cold cervezas!
p.s.~ Yes, I realize... ¡Este pambazo es gigantesco! Simplemente siéntese, relájese y disfrute.  Sit back, relax, and enjoy☺.  And work out double-time tomorrow...
 
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