Oct 23, 2013 6:07 PM by Jennifer English

Flank steak with chimmichurri and classic margaritas

The World Margarita Championships are taking place in Tucson this Friday at 6pm at the Tucson Museum of Art.

The World Margarita Championship exemplifies the culinary soul and spirit of Tucson. With its proximity to Mexico, Tucson celebrates and enjoys agave spirits like no other place in America.

I think that the Margarita is one of the world's most food-friendly cocktails. I think that developing a signature Margarita that you can serve at home. The basic technique or recipe is so simple and easy to master, that playing around to find your own favorite formula is a cinch.

Essentials for the perfect margarita begin and end, in my opinion, with fresh, freshly squeezed lime juice. Nothing else will do. I also suggest tasting the lime juice. Is it sour, super sour, rancid? Do not assume all limes are created equal. If you need to make an adjustment to the formula to account for the degree of sourness of the lime juice, now is the time to do so. I find that fresh orange juice can sometimes take the edge off the lime juice.

Salt on the rim is optional, but people who love it expect it so be prepared to offer the best. Kosher salt is the inexpensive version. Try the gourmet salts available in supermarkets. When getting "cute" and considering mixing a chili powder with the salt, remember that chili does not dissolve. So the drinker will likely be crying from hot lip syndrome and thus unable to fully appreciate the great Margarita you made for them with freshly squeezed lime juice.

Here is my own Classic Margarita recipe:

Salt, for rimming the glass (optional)
1 1/2 ounces tequila (blanco, 100 percent agave)
1 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 ounce Cointreau (not Triple Sec)!

1. If using salt, place in a shallow dish. Moisten the rim of a rocks glass with a dampened paper towel, then dip in salt.
2. Fill the glass with ice; add tequila, lime juice, and Cointreau; and stir a few times until chilled. Serve immediately.

The 2012 winner was Chef Ryan Clark from Lodge on the desert. You can see how in his version he brought in some of his signature flavors and style to make a winning cocktail.

2012 JUDGES CHOICE: "Tatas & Tequila Margarita"
Presented by Ryan Clark of Lodge on the Desert

2 fl. oz. Penasco Reposado
1 fl. oz. Grand Marnier
2.5 fl. oz. citrus syrup (see recipe below)
2-3 drops Queen Creek Pomegranate-White Balsamic Vinegar
.25 fl. oz. pomegranate jam (see recipe below)

Citrus Syrup
2 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 oz freshly squeezed lime juice
1 oz sugar
Bring all ingredients to a boil. Chill.

Pomegranate Jam
4 oz pomegranate seeds
4 oz pomegranate juice
¼ t agar agar
Bring all ingredients to a boil. Strain and chill until set.

Measure all ingredients into a bar drink shaker. Add large ice cubes and shake until chilled. Pour into Mason Jar and garnish with a pomegranate seed cluster and fresh lime.

Here is a recipe I serve with my signature Margarita: Flank steak with chimmichurri. Flank steak is a secondary, less expensive cut of meat that soaks up all the big flavors of the chimmichurri. One day while making the chimmichurri, I realized that many of the ingredients going into the bowl were the same as those I use in my guacamole. Instead of making it into the usual guac, I tried making a chunked version of avocado and chimmichurri salad, sort of an alternative to guacamole, and it was superb.

I usually make a double batch of the chimmichurri (which will keep in the fridge for a week) and toss large cubes of avocado for a quick alternative to guacamole. I also serve the chimmichurri avocado salad on toasts of thin sliced bolillo roll as well as with tortilla chips. The brightness of the chimmichurri is the perfect counterpoint for the Margarita.

Avocado salad with chimmichurri

Choose four ripe but firm avocados. Half them and cube the flesh into 1/2 inch cubes into a bowl. Immediately toss with half the chimmichurri mixture and serve immediately while the steaks are cooking.

Flank steak with chimmichurri
Chimmichurri Sauce Ingredients:

1 cup Italian Parsley
½ cup Organic Extra Virgin Olive oil
1/3 cup Red Wine Vinegar
¼ cup Chopped Fresh Cilantro
2 garlic cloves peeled
¾ teaspoon Course Grind Black Pepper
½ teaspoon Organic Ground Cumin
½ teaspoon Sea Salt Mill
1 small onion
lime juice from 1 lime
dried mexican oregano ( optional)

Flank Steak 4 x 6 oz. pieces
Directions for the Chimmichurri:

1. Pulse the garlic and onion in the food processor until finely chopped.
2. Add the parsley and/or cilantro, and oregano if using, and pulse briefly, until finely chopped.
3. Transfer the mixture to a separate bowl. Add the olive oil, lime juice, cumin and vinegar, and stir. (Adding the liquids outside of the blender gives the chimichurri the correct texture. You don't want the herbs to be completely puréed, just finely chopped).
4. Season with salt and red pepper flakes to taste.

Flank Steak Recipe

1. Grill the Flank Steak for 5 minutes per side on high heat for medium rare, remember to keep the lid of the BBQ closed while cooking.
2. Remove the flank steak from the grill and baste with Chimmichurri Sauce.
3. Cover with aluminum foil to hold in the heat and let rest for 10 minutes.
4. To serve slice the Flank Steak across the grain to ensure tender slices.


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