Cooking with Tequila

The holiday commemorates the victory of Mexican forces in the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. But you don't have to be a history buff to enjoy Cinco de Mayo; in the past few years many Chicagoans host parties to celebrate the day.

Tequila is the beverage of choice at Cinco de Mayor parties, but you can also use tequila for cooking, says Cleetus Friedman, owner of City Provisions, a catering company on Chicago's north side. Tequila has a unique flavor that really lends itself to marinating and grilling meat, poultry and fish, he says.

Using a high quality, 100% blue agave tequila is the key to excellent taste—your recipes are only as good as their ingredients, Friedman points out. 100% blue agave tequila enhances the flavor of food and drink with its pure taste, and does not detract or distract the taste buds with that "alcohol" flavor.

Depending on which variety of 100% agave tequila you use, you will be able to enhance certain flavors, for example: marinating in Hornitos Reposado will bring out an oaky flavor in most meats. When combining with fruits (particularly citrus), Hornitos Plata really brings out the fruit tones in the recipe.

For mixing cocktails, 100% blue agave tequila offers the best taste and the smoothest finish. 100% blue agave means that the tequila is made from pure agave without any added sugar (your other option is 51% agave, which has 49% added sugar) and often results in those awful tequila hangovers. Fewer additives equal a better experience and it allows the tequila to work in concert with the other flavors in a cocktail or a food recipe; not overpower them. I particularly like Hornitos brand because it offer you the most taste and varieties. This is how tequila has been traditionally made since the 1800s.

Friedman is sharing some of his tequila-based recipes for appetizers and drinks that are perfect for any Cinco de Mayo celebration.

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