Are you familiar with cemitas poblanas? No? Please allow me to handle the introductions…
Cemitas are sandwiches that originate in the Mexican state of Puebla. The term ‘cemita’ refers to both the specific type of bread on which the sandwiches are constructed, as well as the finished sandwiches themselves.
You’ll want to build cemitas when you’re hungry.
You’ll want to build cemitas when you’re craving a perfectly matched array of flavors and textures.
You’ll want to build cemitas when you’re interested in putting a height-defying and perfectly satisfying sandwich that you won’t soon forget into your face.
Here’s what you’re going to want to do to complete construction:
First, find yourself a cemita roll or similar equivalent; the bread is baked in a circular shape and has a crumb similar to that of brioche. Most importantly, the top is studded with sesame seeds. Any large, sesame-topped bun will work as an excellent stand in for a cemita roll.
Next, the meat that forms the foundation of your cemita. Classic fillings include carnitas, fried beef, and pickled pig skin. Today, we’re going with shredded chicken tossed in a chipotle-studded yogurt sauce. It’s savory. It’s spicy. And it’s all kinds of finger-licking good.
Finally, you’ve got your toppings. Traditional cemita toppings include shredded Oaxaca cheese, thinly sliced onion, avocado and -most importantly- a generous dusting of papalo. Papalo is a leafy herb used in a wide variety of Mexican dishes. It has a flavor similar to that of cilantro with a pungent, peppery bite not unlike that of arugula. Papalo has been slowly making its way north in recent years, although not nearly at the rate of cilantro and coriander; I suggest substituting with cilantro if you can’t put your hands on papalo.
OK? You can take your hard hats off now. Construction is complete!
All that’s left is to put that glorious cemita into your face. Don’t worry if it won’t fit. That’s what napkins are for! Lots and lots and lots of napkins…
Chipotle Chicken Cemitas
3 cemita rolls (any very large, sesame seed-topped roll will suffice as a substitute)
4 c. chicken, cooked, shredded
1 c. Chobani non-fat plain Greek yogurt
6 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, minced
1/2 c. buttermilk
1 1/2 tsp. garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. white pepper, ground
1 1/2 c. Oaxaca cheese, shredded (Shredded mozzarella or even Monterey Jack cheese may be substituted. Note that I strongly recommend shredding your cheese, whichever you use here, by hand. Hand-shredded cheese melts much more easily and evenly than its store-bought pre-shredded counterpart.)
1 large white onion, ends removed, thinly sliced
2 large avocados, peeled, seeded, sliced vertically (Note that if you are not serving these sandwiches immediately, you will likely want to douse your avocado slices lightly in just a half teaspoon of freshly squeezed lime juice in order to prevent discoloration.)
papalo, roughly chopped (chopped cilantro may be substituted)
Preheat oven to 350°.
Slice the cemita rolls in half and arrange, cut-side up, on a rimmed baking sheet. Toast until crisp and lightly browned, approximately 5 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly.
To prepare the chicken, place the shredded meat in a large bowl. Whisk the yogurt, minced chiles, buttermilk, garlic and white pepper together in another bowl. Stir the yogurt sauce into the meat. Top each toasted cemita bottom generously with the chicken mixture and then one half cup of shredded cheese. Return to the oven and bake just until the cheese has melted, approximately 3-5 minutes. Remove and top with onion slices, avocado slices, papalo, and roll tops. Serve immediately (with napkins).
YIELD: 3 extremely large sandwiches
This post is sponsored by Chobani. While I did not receive compensation for this post, I was given free product for review. All opinions included herein are my own, and, as always, I only write about food and products that I personally truly love.