I can’t help but pronounce “Pambazos” with a very exaggerated, stereotypical Italian-American accent. Pam-BAAAH-zos! Even though I know that Pambazos are not Italian. Even though I know that they’re named after “pan basso”. Still, it’s pam-BAAAH-zos every time.
But what is a Pambazo? It’s a guajillo salsa-dunked sandwich that’s traditionally filled with spicy chorizo and potatoes. In other words, it’s a Mexican sandwich that is right up my alley.
The salsa– a guajillo pepper sauce– is made from scratch, but it’s really quite simple. Dried chiles, diced onions, garlic, a bit of salt, and water is all it takes to make a delicious, vibrant sauce to bathe the bread in.
The potato and chorizo filling is a popular one in Mexico, and you’ll find in everything from tacos to breakfast bakes. The potatoes soak up a lot of the spicy chorizo sausage flavor as they crisp up, which is great because chorizo is one of the most delicious things ever created. Or at least I think so. (For further proof, see here, or here, or here, or here… and so on.)
But while the potato-chorizo filling is delicious, the refried beans are creamy, the lettuce is fresh and crisp, the cheese is salty, and the sour cream is cooling, the real star of the show is not the filling. It’s the bread.
Typically, Pambazos use pan basso, a tough and chewy white bread that keeps its shape and texture after it’s soaked in the sauce. Pan basso can be difficult to find the further away from Mexico you go, but other sturdy rolls such as Portuguese rolls can be substituted.
After the rolls are dunked, they’re griddled or fried in a bit of oil until crisp, and then stuffed with a generous amount of the fillings. James and I like to wash ours down with a few cold cervezas.
- 2 lbs mini potatoes, skins on, boiled until fork tender and quartered
- 1 lb raw Mexican chorizo, removed from casings
- 1 large white onion, diced, divided
- Kosher salt, to taste
- 12 dried guajillo chiles, stemmed and seeded
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 cup refried beans, warmed
- 2 cups iceberg lettuce, shredded
- 2 oz queso fresco, crumbled
- 6 sturdy rolls (pan basso, teleres, or Portuguese rolls)
- ⅓ cup sour cream
- In a large, high-walled skillet over medium heat, toast the chiles until fragrant, about 15 seconds on each side. Add in ½ of the onion and the garlic and cover with water. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer until the chiles are rehydrated.
- Strain out the chiles, onions, and garlic over a bowl, reserving the liquid. In a blender, combine the strained solids, a cup of the reserved liquid, and about ¼ teaspoon Kosher salt. Blend until smooth.
- In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the chorizo and cook through, breaking apart with a wooden spoon as you cook, about 5 minutes. Add remaining ½ of the onion and cook until softened.
- Add in the boiled potatoes and press them with the back of a wooden spoon to crush slightly. Season to taste with Kosher salt.
- Oil a skillet over medium-high heat. Dip the rolls in the sauce and turn to coat well. Add two at a time to the hot skillet. Fry, pressing down gently, until browned on both sides. Remove from heat, set aside, and continue until all of the rolls have been fried.
- Cut the rolls open. Top with refried beans, the potato and chorizo mixture, lettuce, queso fresco, and sour cream.
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