Monday, September 17, 2012

Mexican Fiesta: Restaurant-Style Salsa, Gronk-amole, and Blue Margaritas


First and foremost, yesterday was football Sunday. I'm a Patriots fan through and through, making every effort I can to catch the weekly games. There's something about eating and drinking that just goes hand-in-hand with watching football.


Maybe it's the fact that most games are on Sundays, making it socially acceptable to drink heavy amounts of alcohol in front of the television in the middle of the day. Maybe it's watching heavily padded men plow into each other that makes you want to eat as much as they do. Regardless of why snacking/drinking and watching football are a perfect match, I decided this Sunday I would create a bit of a football feast for viewing the game... specifically a Mexican-themed feast as I was craving authentic tacos.

Gronking my tortilla chip!

Coincidentally, it also turned out that yesterday was Mexican Independence Day. This unplanned overlap of events made my plans for an authentic Mexican feast even more perfect for football Sunday. It was truly meant to be! I decided that I would make just about every single component from scratch because, let's face it, I'm a bit of an overachiever. Everything from the salsa to the corn tortillas and margarita mix would be homemade. This is how I roll, and quite frankly, my Patriots deserve the very best (even if they occasionally let me down)!! Here is my menu:


Football Fiesta

Pregame
Restaurant-Style Salsa
Gronk-amole (Guacamole)
Tortilla Chips

Touchdown Pass
Homemade Corn Tortillas
Homemade Fresh Chorizo Tacos
Braised Short Rib Tacos
Pickled Red Onions
Sour Cream

Thirst-Quencher
Blue Margaritas

Overtime
Margarita Cupcakes


Yeah, I know... a pretty amazing spread, if I may say so myself. Since there were so many items on the menu, I knew I couldn't share them all in one post, so I will spread them out over the span of this week. Today I will share the recipe for the Restaurant-Style Salsa, the Gronk-amole (my sister came up with the amazing name... so clever!), and the Blue Margaritas!


First up is the salsa!! Tremendously easy to make, it really mimics what one comes to expect when eating at an authentic Mexican restaurant. It's less thick and chunky than the jarred stuff, but it fully surpasses its counterparts on flavor and authenticity. It warms up your palate with a good amount of lingering spice, but isn't unbearable by any means. I used San Marzano tomatoes (in my opinion the best canned tomatoes out there), and a few other simple ingredients. The quantity this makes is plenty for a big gathering!


The Gronk-amole is my take on guacamole! My favorite method for guac-making is to dice up the avocado and then slightly mash it as I mix it together with the other ingredients. This gives a somewhat homogenized texture with lots of chunks as well. I prefer it over a totally chunky or totally smooth guacamole. I have been known to replace the jalepeño occasionally with crushed chili flakes when I didn't have the fresh pepper on hand, and that works great as well. Perhaps less authentic, but I've never had any complaints! In fact, I'm often told that my guacamole is better than most! Leave a couple of the avocado pits in the mixture to help prevent the mixture from browning. It may be slightly unsightly but it works beautifully! You can always remove them right before company arrives if you want to be all prim and proper, but come on, this is football!


The Blue Margaritas were also incredibly easy to make! I wanted a recipe where I could literally throw together a pitcher and then serve over ice as needed. This recipe can easily be multiplied for bigger crowds, and can be cut down for individual drinks as well. The only difference between Blue Margaritas and regular ones is the addition of Blue Curacao as opposed to another orange liqueur, typically triple sec. Blue Curacao is orange flavored but blue in color. The flavor shouldn't be too different than if you used triple sec but the color is that of the Patriots and so I made my margaritas blue :)



Restaurant-Style Salsa
Makes about 6 cups
(Adapted from The Pioneer Woman)

1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes (peeled) with juice
2 (10-ounce) cans Rotel (diced tomatoes with green chilies)
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 jalepeño, quartered and sliced thin
1/2 cup cilantro
Juice from 1/2 a lime
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

Add all ingredients to a food processor. Pulse until you get desired consistency. Refrigerate for at least one hour, and then serve with your favorite tortilla chips.

*Note* This makes a large quantity so use at least an 11-or-12-cup food processor, or work in batches.


Gronk-amole (Guacamole)
Makes about 3 cups

5 ripe Haas avocados, peeled and diced, a couple pits reserved
1 to 2 limes, juiced (depending on their size)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 jalepeño (or more if you desire), stem and seeds removed, finely diced
2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
Kosher salt

Mix together all of the ingredients, gently mashing up some of the avocado as you stir to achieve a mixture of both creamy and chunky avocado. Adjust seasoning as needed.


Blue Margaritas
Makes 4 (6-ounce) drinks
(Adapted from Confessions of a Foodie Bride)

Homemade Margarita Mix:
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 cup fresh squeezed lime juice (about 8 to 12 limes)

Blue Margaritas:
1 recipe homemade margarita mix
3/4 cup (6 oz) tequila
1/2 cup (4 oz) Blue Curacao
Coarse salt, for rim (optional)
Lime wedges/slices, for garnish (optional)

Heat water and sugar in a small sauce pan until completely dissolved and the water is clear. Let cool. Pour into a pitcher with lime juice. Leftovers will keep 7 to 10 days in a jar in the fridge.

To the margarita mix, add the tequila and Blue Curacao. If you'd like salt on the rim of your glasses, rub some lime along the rim of each glass and then invert the glass onto a dish of coarse salt. It will stick to the rim. Add ice to the glasses and pour margarita mixture into each glass, garnishing with lime slices, if desired.

To make a single margarita, add 1/2 cup margarita mix, 1.5 oz (3 tablespoons) tequila, and 1 oz (2 tablespoons Blue Curacao) to a small glass of ice and serve.




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