Episode 210: Tropical Smoke

Salsa Borracha (Drunken Salsa)

Salsa Borracha (Drunken Salsa)

This is one of Mexico’s most unusual salsas. Bitter and piquant, it’s not the sort you’d serve with chips, but barbacoa (pit-roasted lamb or goat) just wouldn’t taste right without it.


Salsa Borracha (Drunken Salsa)

Recipe Notes

  • Yield: Makes 2 cups; enough to serve 6 to 8


  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 8 pasilla chilies
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped (2 cups)
  • 2/3 cup beer
  • 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 2 tablespoons tequila
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt (kosher or sea), or more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated salty cheese, like Mexican queso fresco or feta

Recipe Steps

Step 1: Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat to 350°F on a deep-fry thermometer. Add the chilies a few at a time and fry until puffed and crisp, 10 to 20 seconds per side. Do not let the chilies burn. Transfer the chilies to a paper towel–lined plate and let cool. Stem the chilies and break into 1-inch pieces.

Step 2: Add the onion to the pan and fry until golden brown, 4 to 6 minutes. Let cool slightly, then transfer the onion to a blender or food processor. Add the chilies, beer, vinegar, water, tequila, cilantro, honey, salt, and pepper and blend to a coarse purée. Correct the seasoning, adding salt. Transfer to a jar, cover, and refrigerate. The salsa will keep for several days. Just before serving, transfer the salsa to bowls and sprinkle with grated cheese.

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