Friday, January 14, 2011

Margarita vs. Margherita

In developing today's blog I was torn. There were so many directions to go. My first idea was to go for the big laugh. I was thinking about treating the subject like a Boxing fight card:

"Good evening ladies and gentlemen and welcome to tonight's main event... Cuervo "Don't eat the worn" Margarita vs. Pizza "Boom Boom" Margherita... Let's get ready to RUMBLE

But, that really wouldn't do the subject justice.

Then I thought about comparing it against famous rivalries throughout history:

  • David Vs. Goliath
  • Ali vs. Frazier
  • IBM vs. Mac
  • Ford vs. Chevy
  • Coke vs. Pepsi
  • Yankees vs. Red Sox
  • Spy vs. Spy
  • Pirates vs. Ninjas
  • Coyote vs. Road Runner
  • Batman vs. Joker
  • Edison vs. Tesla

But Margarita vs. Margherita Pizza is not the same. This is not a rivalry. This is an opportunity for two flavor groups to meet and enhance each other. This is also the opportunity for a party.

Really though, what isn't an opportunity for a party?

In this case, it's the birthday of a friend, who we will call Bella.

Um, no not THIS Bella. In our world, Vampires don't sparkle.

Remains of the LAST teenage vampire that stayed out past 6:00 AM curfew.

We are going to get together and celebrate her birthday next Saturday. The theme of the birthday party is "Margarita vs. Margherita".

The food will be all Margarita or Margherita based. What's the difference? Tons.

Margarita is all about the drink we have come to know and love. In its simplest form, the margarita is a cocktail of tequila mixed with triple sec and lime juice (in a ratio of 7:4:3) served in a salt rimmed glass. But there are almost as many variations of margaritas as there are of Martinis. Let's briefly breakdown each one of the components.

Tequila is the main component. It is a blue agave–based spirit that by Mexican law can only be produced in the state of Jalisco and limited regions in the states of Guanajuato, Michoacán, Nayarit, and Tamaulipas. The red volcanic soil in the surrounding region is particularly well suited to the growing of the blue agave, and more than 300 million of the plants are harvested there each year. Tequila is most often made at a 38–40% alcohol content (76–80 proof), but can be produced between 35–55% alcohol content (70–110 proof). Though most tequilas are 80 proof, many distillers will distill to 100 proof and then dilute it with water to reduce its harshness. Some of the more well respected brands distill the alcohol to 80 proof without using additional water as a diluent. (1)

Triple Sec is a variety of Curaçao, an orange-flavoured liqueur made from the dried peels of bitter oranges from the Caribbean. Triple sec, which is French for Triple Dry, is one-third as sweet as regular Curaçao. It is widely used in mixed drinks and recipes as a sweetening and flavoring agent. (2)

Top Shelf Margarita


(1 jigger = 1 shot = 1.5 ounces)

  • 21/3 jiggers Añejo tequila. For Margaritas, Añejo style is best. It has aged a minimum of one year, but less than three years in small oak barrels; the longer it's been aged, the better the flavor.
  • 11/3 jiggers Cointreau or Triple Sec
  • 1 jigger freshly squeezed key lime lime juice
  • kosher salt

Pour lime juice into shallow dessert dish. place top of glass, rim side down, onto plate. Rub the rim of the glass with the lime juice. Next, pour kosher salt into another shallow dessert dish, then place wet glass onto shallow dessert dish to make the salt stick to it.

Pour remaining lime juice, Tequilla, and liqueur, along with a generous amount of ice into a bar shaker. Shake vigorously. Carefully pour into the glass (taking care not to dislodge any salt). Garnish and serve over ice. Use sliced lime for garnish.

  • Golden Grand Margarita: Substitute Grand Marnier for Triple Sec.
  • Blue Margarita: Substitute 1 1/3 jiggers Blue Curaçao for Triple Sec, add 1 jigger simple syrup. Use sliced orange for garnish.
  • Mexican Lemonade: Reduce Tequila to 2 jiggers. Substitute 2 jiggers Lemoncello or lemon liqueur for Triple Sec. Add 1 jigger Simple Syrup. Muddle and add 1 sprig of rosemary. Use sliced candied lemon for garnish
  • Strawberry Margarita: Add 2 ounces of pureed, frozen strawberries. Substitute an additional jigger of Tequilla for Triple Sec. Replace kosher salt with granulated sugar for rim of glass. Use slice strawberries for garnish
  • Watermelon Margarita: Rind, cube, and seed 5 cups of watermelon. Puree watermelon. Add standard Margarita ingredients to blender. Pour into salt rimmed glasses and serve with small watermelon slices for garnish
As a drink, Margaritas are great. But as a flavor blend, Tequila, lime, triple sec, and salt bring a fantastic palette of flavors to any meal.

Grilled Smokey Margarita Chicken Breasts


1 can Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce (This is an item that you must keep in your pantry!)
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 cup Tequila
1/2 cup Triple Sec
1/2 cup lime juice
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 orange cut into thick round slices
1/4 cup fresh cilantro


In a covered container, place 1 teaspoon adobo sauce(from peppers), tequila, triple sec, lime juice, kosher salt, garlic cloves, olive oil and chicken breasts. Coat chicken well and refrigerate overnight.

Bring grill to medium heat. Remove chicken breasts and place on grill. Baste with marinade. Flip 1st time after 5 minutes and baste. Turn again every 5 minutes do not baste again and check periodically until internal temperature reaches 165.

Remove from grill and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Place orange slices onto grill for 45 seconds. Turn 45 degrees and leave for another 45 degrees. Remove and use for garnish

Take remaining marinade and place into sauce pan. Bring to a boil. Add honey and 2 chipotle peppers and cook for 5 minutes.

Roughly tear or chop cilantro. Place cilantro, grilled orange and sauce over chicken breasts and serve.

That gives us a good idea about Margarita, but what is Margherita? Try, who is Margherita. This is Queen Margherita of Savoy consort of King Umberto I of Italy. The story goes that in or about 1889, Queen Margherita took an inspection tour of her Italian Kingdom. During her travels around Italy she saw many people, especially the peasants, eating this large, flat bread. Curious, the queen ordered her guards to bring her one of these Pizza breads. The Queen loved the bread and would eat it every time she was out amongst the people, which caused some consternation in Court circles. It was not seemly for a Queen to dine on peasant's food.

Never the less, the queen loved the bread and decided to take matters into her own hands. Summoning Chef Rafaelle Esposito from his pizzeria to the royal palace, the queen ordered him to bake a selection of pizzas for her pleasure.

To honor the queen who was so beloved by her subjects, Rafaelle decided to make a very special pizza just for her. He baked a Pizza topped with tomatoes, Mozarella Cheese, and fresh Basil (to represent the colors of the Italian flag: Red, white, and green).

This became Queen Margherita's favorite pizza and when word got out that this was one of the queen's favorite foods, she became even more popular with the Italian people. She also started a culinary tradition, the Pizza Margherita, which lasts to this very day in Naples and has now spread throughout the world. (3)

If you recall the Pizza Night blog (available here, here, but not here.) I gave out my favorite recipe for pizza dough. Then I mentioned during the "Back in Black(sburg)" or "Guerrilla Catering" that we found a pasta maker was an excellent way to make small thin pizzas. If you combine both methods. And use Chef Esposito's method above, you will make a superior pizza.

Tomatoes, Mozzarella, Basil - that's it.

Try it and post your pictures here, on Facebook, or email them to me and I will post them here for you .

Bella's birthday is February 23. I will post pictures an tell everyone how many different Margarita or Margherita themed foods and drinks we had.

Until next time folks, I wish you Peace, Love, and Hollandaise Sauce!




Mary said...

Thanks for this post! Just had a conversation about the difference recently with my dining companion and our waitress.

DL said...

Thanks Mary! Happy to be of service! Keep thinking Sideways!

CrackerJacker said...

Worm. You meant to say worm.