Tequila and lime
Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with a classic Mexican combination.
For most Cinco de Mayo celebrations, the Mexican dynamic duo of tequila and lime usually shows up in two roles: margaritas and shots. But what about dinner? Here’s a menu with tequila and lime providing a subtle (or maybe not-so-subtle) punch in every dish, from chunky guacamole to grilled chicken to cookies for dessert. While I like aged reposado tequilas for sipping and mixing, for cooking I like to use plata, or silver (sometimes referred to as blanco, or white) tequila. Silver tequila is not aged, so it has a somewhat rougher character that stands up well to other ingredients.
Tequila-Lime Guacamole Makes 2½ cups
3 ripe Hass avocados, halved
¼ cup very finely chopped red onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 small jalapeno pepper, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
¼ cup tequila, or to taste
Salt and black pepper
¼ cup fresh lime juice
Scoop the flesh from one avocado into a medium bowl, add the onion, garlic, jalapeno, cilantro, tequila, ¾ teaspoon salt, and black pepper to taste, and mash well with a fork. Working with the remaining avocado halves 1 at a time, use a dinner knife to make ½-inch crosshatch incisions in flesh, cutting down to but not through the skin. With a soup spoon, scoop the avocado chunks into the bowl with the avocado-onion mixture. Sprinkle the lime juice over the mixture and stir gently. Taste the guacamole and adjust the seasoning with additional salt, black pepper, and tequila, if desired. Serve at once.
Grilled Chicken with Creamy Tequila-Lime Sauce Serves 4
3 tablespoons plus
½ teaspoon sugar
4 12-ounce split bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts
2 large limes cut into 8 wedges, plus 2 tablespoons juice from 1 lime
3 tablespoons tequila
¼ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup sour cream
1½ teaspoons minced jalapeno pepper
1 medium clove garlic, minced
1/3cup chopped fresh cilantro
Vegetable oil, for the grill
In a large shallow bowl, stir 1/3 cup salt and 3 tablespoons sugar into 6 cups water until dissolved. Submerge the chicken, cover, and refrigerate for 1 hour. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix the lime wedges and the tequila and set aside. In a medium bowl, mix the mayonnaise, sour cream, jalapeno, garlic, lime juice, cilantro, remaining sugar, and ½ teaspoon salt, then cover and refrigerate.
Prepare a medium-hot fire on one side of a charcoal grill, leaving the other side empty of coals, or preheat a gas grill on high. (Once preheated, adjust one burner to medium-high and the others to low.) Remove the chicken from the marinade, rinse, and dry. Oil the grill grates, then grill the chicken skin side down, over the hot part of the grill, and without moving, until skin is grill-marked, about 4 minutes. Turn the pieces over and continue grilling until second side is grill-marked, about 4 minutes longer. Move the chicken to the cooler side of the grill and grill, skin side up, until center of the thickest part of each piece registers 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about 18 minutes longer. Transfer the chicken to a platter, cover loosely with foil, and rest for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, remove the lime wedges from the tequila and grill over medium-high until warm and slightly charred, about 5 minutes, turning once halfway through grilling time. Stir the tequila into the mayonnaise-sour cream mixture. Serve the chicken with the warm lime wedges and the tequila-lime sauce.
Tequila-Lime Glazed Soft Sugar Cookies Makes about 2 dozen cookies
If you like salt on the rim of your margarita glass, you may want to sprinkle a couple of flakes of fleur de sel on the freshly glazed cookies.
2¼ cups flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 cup granulated sugar
2½ tablespoons finely grated zest from 5 limes, plus 1 teaspoon juice
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3½ tablespoons tequila
½ cup confectioners’ sugar
In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and ¼ teaspoon salt together, and set aside. With a hand-held or standing mixer, mix ¼ cup granulated sugar and ½ tablespoon lime zest on medium-low speed until moist and fragrant, about 30 seconds. Place the lime-infused sugar in a large shallow bowl, cover, and set aside.
Add the remaining granulated sugar, the brown sugar, and 1 tablespoon of the lime zest to the mixer bowl and beat on medium-low speed until moist and fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stop the mixer, add the butter, and beat on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes, then scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the egg, vanilla, and 3 tablespoons tequila, and beat at medium-high speed to combine, about 45 seconds, and scrape down the bowl again. Add the flour mixture and beat at low speed to incorporate thoroughly, about 45 seconds, scraping bowl as necessary. With damp hands, roll heaping tablespoons of the dough into walnut-size balls and roll the balls in the lime-infused sugar to coat. Refrigerate the sugared dough balls for about 45 minutes.
Set the oven rack in the middle position and heat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Working in batches, place the dough balls about 2 inches apart on the baking sheet, flatten them slightly with the palm of your hand, and bake until golden around the edges and just set in the center, about 13 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through the baking time. Cool the cookies on the baking sheet for about 3 minutes, then transfer them to a rack to cool completely.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl mix the confectioners’ sugar, remaining lime zest and juice, and remaining tequila until smooth. Top each cookie with about ½ teaspoon of this glaze, rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes for the glaze to set, and serve.