Here is how much excuse I need to throw a party: Zero. In Spanish that’s Cero. So I’m thinking, with Jazz Fest and Kentucky Derby this weekend, can I handle Cinco de Mayo on Monday night? Si, Mucho! Mondays have gotten too smug anyway. Too complacent. Too grown up. Too quick to remind us that we are getting older and that no one else is going to remember to pay our credit card bills for us. It’s a drag. I think that maybe Monday needs to take a day off, maybe sit in time out for a bit. Let’s have friends over, make awesome little tacos and drink some margaritas and celebrate Mexican heritage. On a Monday. Let’s let Tuesday carry the heat this week.
First up, Margaritas. So many websites, so many opinions. This may not have been exactly your go-to margarita recipe before you read this sentence, but it should be now. Charred Orange Margaritas.
The really important thing here is to use super-awesome fresh squeezed orange juice. No Tropicana aqui. Trust me, it makes all the difference in the world.
- 2 Juicy thick-skinned oranges (I love cara cara or blood oranges when they are in season)
- 6 oz fresh squeezed orange juice
- 1 scoop of lime sorbet
- 1.5 ounces of tequilla (a shot and a half)
- 1.5 ounces of Grand Marnier (a shot and a half)
- 1 tablespoon of fresh squeezed lime juice (will take 1-2 juicy limes to make)
- 2 scoops of ice
- Heat your grill up to about 500 degrees.
- Cut the oranges in half and then cut two slices off of the open ends of the oranges to use for garnish. You should end up with four dome shaped pieces and four thick round slices.
- Spray the oranges on the fleshy side only with cooking spray and place directly on clean grill.
- Turn the flame down to medium and let them stay on the grill, untouched, for 8 minutes.
- Remove them from the grill and set aside to cool down.
- Add the orange juice, lime sorbet, tequilla, Grand Marnier and lime juice to a blender. Juice the large chargrilled oranges and save the smaller discs for garnish. Add that juice to the blender. Add two scoops of ice and blend until the ice is completely smooth.
- Serve in a salted or unsalted glass with the charred orange as garnish.
- Drink immediately!
- This makes enough for two large frozen margaritas or four smaller ones.
Next up, fancy-pants Shrimp & Andouille tacos that are muy rápido for a weeknight. Si? The key to this one is to do all the prep in advance and put everything in little bowls so your guests can make their own tacos. There are three things to cook:
Sausage: I use Andouille but that’s because I’m from Deepest Darkest Louisiana. You can also use Chorizo or another spicy cured sausage
Shrimp: Get big ones and, only because this is for a Monday recipe, go ahead and buy them already peeled and deveined. Just make sure they are big and, whenever possible, from the Gulf Coast. (What oil spill?)
Black beans: Get these cracking first because even though they are easy the bacon needs to cook before you put in the onion and beans. Man, these are good. Save any leftovers, blend half with chicken stock and recombine them with the other half for a killer black bean soup the next day.
- 1 large can (1 lb 13 oz/ 800 g) of black beans
- 4 strips of bacon cut into 1/2" slices
- 1 small red onion peeled and finely diced
- 2 teaspoons (10 ml) of chipotle (smoked jalapeno) sauce
- 1 lb (500 g) shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) olive oil
- 2 teaspoons Old Bay or Tony Chacere's seasoning.
- 1/2 lb sausage (225 g) Andouille, Chorizo or other smoked sausage) left at room temperature for 10 minutes.
- 1 ripe avocado
- 2 ripe tomatoes
- 1 bunch of cilantro
- 1/3 cup (enough for topping) crumbled Cojita cheese
- 10 small corn or flour tortillas
- Turn gas grill onto medium-high heat.
- Add bacon to medium saucepan over medium high heat and stir occasionally. When the bacon is crispy add the onion. Stir and cook for about 10 minutes until the onion is translucent. Add the black beans and the chipotle, stir to combine and turn the head down to low to keep warm until you need them.
- Put the shrimp on a metal skewer. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle evenly with the Old Bay or Tony Chacere's seasoning. Place on the grill. Flip after three minutes and cook on the other side for three minutes or until the shrimp are cooked through. Remove from heat and place in a small bowl.
- Brush the sausage with olive oil and place on clean grill. Cook for 10 minutes undisturbed. Flip and cook for another 10 minutes. Check temperature with a thermometer. For ground pork you want at least 160°F. Remove from grill and let sit for 5 minutes then slice and place in a bowl.
- Wrap the tortillas in foil and place on the grill on indirect heat. After 10 minutes check to see that they have all warmed though.
- Peel and dice the avocado and tomatoes and place in separate bowls.
- Pinch off about a 1/3 cup of cilantro leaves and place in a bowl.
- Place cojita in yet another bowl.
- Let guests assemble their own tacos.
Put some great music on as soon as you start prepping. When you finish, clean up your mess. Load everything into the dishwasher. Turn off your mobile phone. Stack up some plates. Grab a margarita with your friends.
And THAT is how you do it on a Monday.