What’s this? Another sandwich recipe from South of the Border? Why yes, yes it is…
I’m gonna admit it right now – I have an addiction to torta rolls. Somewhere between the denseness of a ciabatta roll and the light, airiness of a fluffy baguette, the torta roll is a rectangular hunk of sweet, chewy bread goodness. ANY sandwich is great on these wonderful rolls, but why not use them for their intended purpose and throw something Latin on them, right? Right!
Panes de Pavo are a traditional sandwich from El Salvador, typically consisting of marinated and roasted turkey simmered in a thick, rich red sauce filled with the flavors of pepitas, tomatoes, and a wide variety of other ingredients, and topped with a similarly wide variety of things. One thing I noticed while researching these sammiches – no two recipes were alike – so I took that as the perfect excuse to just go wild and throw things in a pot until it tasted good. Like I need a reason for that…
Problem #1 that I encountered while prepping for this experiment was actually locating turkey breast to use for the base meat. Apparently the only ways to get turkey breast these days are frozen on the bone, in packages of cutlets, or in a vaccum sealed pack with a nasty, chemical laden marinade already added to it. Buying and thawing a whole breast for an experiment did not appeal to me, cutlets were too thin for my tastes, and the marinated ones kinda defeated the purpose, so I settled for a different part of the bird that is readily available fresh – turkey legs.
In an attempt to keep these things relatively healthy, I removed the skin from the legs before adding my marinade of choice for an overnight soak. I also slashed some deep cuts into the meat of the legs to allow the delicious mixture of dijon mustard, crushed garlic, ancho chile powder, and vermouth to soak into the meat better. Left to ponder their fate in the garlicky, mustardy bath overnight, the turkey came out of the bag ready to face their demise drunk on vermouth and coated in goo. Sounds like a pretty decent way to meet your maker to me!
In the traditional versions of Panes con Pavo, the turkey is roasted until tender and then added to the sauce to simmer slowly. Since I am impatient, I made a bigger mess than originally intended and did a combination of baking and pressure cooking to speed things up. A 40 minute bake @ 350 helped the marinade crust on the meat a little, and 30 more minutes in the pressure cooker made sure the flesh was soft, shreddable, and ready for the sauce. The cleanup was a bear, but it was worth it.
Then there was the sauce.
This part of the recipe is where my tendency to throw everything but the kitchen sink into a recipe really came to the forefront. I had copies of four different recipes on hand for inspiration, and I stole bits and pieces of each one until I had what I decided was the perfect base for a wet sandwich topping. Fire roasted tomatoes, garlic, pepitas, ancho powder, anatto powder, toasted sesame seeds, bay leaf, onion, beer, capers, green olives, sugar, lime juice, maggi seasoning, and oregano all combined in the blender resulted in a delicious, medium-thick sauce with tons of flavors. Yeah, there are a billion ingredients in there, but man was it worth it.
The last decision to be made was what to top the sandwich with. I stuck with a couple of the traditional things here, sauteeing some green pepper and onion slices until soft. Not wanting to stop there, I added some broccoli slaw shreds and sliced poblano pepper, salt, black pepper, lime juice, and a dash or two of smoked ancho powder to the mix. Some fresh cilantro on top rounded out the sandwich.
Panes con Pavo
Ingredients for meat:
- 6 fresh turkey legs, skin removed
- 8 ounces dijon mustard
- 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 1/4 cup dry vermouth
- 1/2 Tablespoon smoked ancho powder
Ingredients for the sauce:
- 1/2 cup warm beer (Budweiser is ideal here)
- 1 15oz can fire roasted tomatoes
- 2 teaspoons of capers with juice
- 2 Tablespoons toasted pepitas
- 1/2 teaspoon anatto powder
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 teaspoons smoked ancho powder
- 1 Tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon lime juice
- 10 green olives
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 small yellow onion, diced
- 1 green bell pepper, sliced thin
- 1 poblano pepper, sliced thin
- 1 medium onion, sliced into half rounds
- 1 teaspoon lime juice
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup pre-packaged broccoli slaw
- 1/2 teaspoon ancho powder
- olive oil for the pan
- All of the above plus 6-8 fresh torta rolls
- fresh cilantro
Step 1 : The night before you plan on making the sandwiches, prepare the turkey legs by removing the skin and slicing the meat in several places with a sharp knife. Mix the marinade ingredients together and place the legs and marinade in a large freezer bag. Toss to coat and refrigerate overnight.
Step 2 : Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Remove the marinated legs from the bag and place on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Bake the legs for 40 minutes, then place in a pressure cooker with 1 cup of water and cook for an additional 35 minutes on HIGH pressure. If you do not have a pressure cooker, skip that step and cook the legs in the oven for another 45 minutes (1.5 hours total).
Step 3 : While the meat is cooking, place the sauce ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Transfer the sauce to a large pan on medium-low heat and simmer covered until the meat is done.
Step 4 : Remove the legs from the oven when done. Allow to cool for 10 minutes or so, then remove the meat from the bones. Turkey legs are notorious for having multiple small bones in them, so make sure all the little pointy things are removed.
Step 5 : Add the turkey meat to the sauce and simmer for 20 minutes to allow the flavors to mingle.
Step 6 : While the turkey and sauce are simmering, place the sliced vegetables and slaw mix in a large pan with some olive oil on medium-high heat. Sautee until the onions and peppers are soft. Add the ancho powder, salt, pepper, and lime juice and toss to coat. Remove from the heat.
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