One Bite: The cemita Milanesa at Cemitas Puebla | Bleader

One Bite: The cemita Milanesa at Cemitas Puebla


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Guy Fieri would say this is mila-NICE-a.
Milanesa is easy to fuck up. How do I know? Because I've eaten a lot of fucked-up Milanesa over the past few months. Seems so easy: make meat thin, dredge meat, bread meat, fry meat. But fry it for too long or at too high a temperature and—poof!—thin meat disappears into even thinner air, leaving behind a cooked cocoon of Milanesa-shaped bread crumbs wrapped around the sad, stringy carcass of what used to be a pork cutlet. Milanesa might as well be Spanish for "meat ghost."

At a few places I've visited recently, I got the impression that they really walk on the Milanesa wild side by prefrying their beef or pork cutlets then throwing them back in the deep fryer to heat them up to order. So basically there's twice the chance they'll transform the cutlet into the sole of a shoe.

I realize I don't have to sell Cemitas Puebla to anyone, especially since Food Network Saturday shirt wearer Guy Fieri brought the Flavortown boat or whatever to the Humboldt Park sandwich shop a few years ago, making the spot better known than it was to begin with.

I very specifically want to sell you their cemita Milanesa.

If you're unfamiliar with a cemita (I was), it's a sandwich that originated in Puebla, Mexico, that's built upon a sesame seed bun of the same name. A cemita at Cemitas Puebla is, more specifically, a sandwich on a sesame seed bun that's been slathered with avocado and a smoky-sweet-briny chipotle jam, then topped with a choice of meat, chewy Oaxacan cheese, and a peppery, citrusy herb called papalo.

My sandwich was missing its papalo parts, but I can't imagine—for all its herby weirdness—that it could have made my cemita Milanesa any dearer to me. That sandwich could be the child of my most distant relative and I would show up in court and fight for custody. And I hate children. But I would like them more if they were stuffed with Milanesa—Milanesa that's actually done right.

From the chipotle jam (made with a horrifying-looking pineapple vinegar, but who cares) to the impossibly stretchy Oaxacan cheese, the sandwich sings. So many layers of flavor that every bite is an event but, like, a really fun event that you can't wait to attend again immediately. Still, the doubled-up cutlet inside was the real attraction: butterflied and pounded so perfectly thin, just a hint of salt, garlic, and oregano in the breading, and amazingly not dry at all. Downright moist. My dining companion—can I drop this and say boyfriend in blog posts?—got the carne enchilada cemita, the same butterflied pork cutlet slathered in a spicy red sauce (better than any enchilada sauce I've ever had), and he much preferred his to my Milanesa because it had more going on. Mine was a little too simple.

And, yeah, Milanesa is simple. But it sure is easy to fuck up.

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