A “Drunken Salsa,” Because It’s Made with Beer
Mexico has a nearly infinite number of unique salsas. A type you may not have tried before is a “salsa borracha,” which is any salsa prepared with an alcohol base.
The name translates as “drunk salsa” or “drunken salsa” but what it really means is delicious. For our recipe use pasilla chilis and a light Mexican lager beer as the base.
Pasilla Chili Peppers
Pasilla chiles are a mild to moderately hot chili that has a fruity sweet smell, a bit like raisins. It has a meaty texture that thickens salsas, sauces, and stews very well.
Which Mexican Beers to Use
Lighter Beers – Cerveza Clara
For our recipe use a lighter Mexican lager beer as the base. Corona Extra, Modelo Especial, Estrella Jalisco, Tecate, and Sol Cerveza are all good beer choices and are easy to find at most supermarkets.
Darker Beers – Cerveza Obscura
You can also choose a darker Mexican beer for even more depth of flavor. Negro Modelo and Dos Equis Ambar are also good choices and are generally easy to find.
Even though the recipe calls for beer. It is a family friendly salsa because the alcohol cooks off while the pasilla peppers are being simmered.
How to Make Salsa Borracha
All of the ingredients you need are commonly available at most supermarkets. You may already have everything you need in your pantry.
- 10 pasilla chili peppers (How to choose Pasilla peppers)
- 1 Mexican lager beer
- 1 bunch cilantro
- 1 medium white onion
- 5 Roma tomatoes
- 2 oranges
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 tsp. oregano
- ½ tsp. salt + salt to taste
1st Step – Seed and Devein the Pasilla Peppers
Remove the seeds and veins from ½ of the pasilla peppers. Doing this reduces the heat of the salsa to get a mild to moderately hot salsa. Leave the seeds and veins in if you prefer a hotter salsa or remove them all if you prefer a milder salsa.
Tips for handling chili peppers: Peppers contain capsaicin which is transferred to your skin during handling. Capsaicin can cause a burning sensation on your skin or eyes. Some people are more sensitive than others. Wear kitchen gloves when handling chili peppers to prevent the burning sensation. Always wash your hands well after handling chilis to remove as much of the capsaicin as possible.
2nd Step – Toast the Pasilla Chilis
The toasting process is an important step because toasting the peppers adds a lot of depth of flavor to the salsa.
Preheat a dry pan to medium-hot. Add the pasillas to the pan and move frequently for about two to three minutes to toast them to where they become aromatic and smell what I call “toasty sweet.” If you toast them too long the smell and taste becomes notably acrid. During the toasting process if they start to smell burnt remove them from the heat immediately.
3rd Step – Simmer the Pasillas in the Beer
Add the toasted chili peppers and the beer to a pan. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to a medium simmer.
Simmer for about 10 minutes. You can see in the photo that the liquid is starting to reduce.
The chilis are ready when almost all the liquid has evaporated. The mixture should look like this.
4th Step – Pan Roasting the Tomatoes, Onions, and Garlic
While the pasillas are simmering it’s time to pan roast the vegetable.
Chop the tomatoes and onions into quarters. Peel the garlic cloves.
Preheat a dry pan to medium hot. Then add the tomatoes, onion, and garlic to your pan.
Cook turning occasionally until the vegetables are well browned.
When the tomatoes and onions look like the picture above you are ready to blend the salsa.
5th Step – Blending the Salsa
Add the toasted peppers, roasted vegetables, and cilantro to your blender then squeeze in the juice of the two oranges.
Add the oregano.
Add the salt. You will make the final adjustment of the salt just before serving.
Pulse the blender just until you get a coarse salsa. Add water one tablespoon at a time if needed to blend. Do not over blend.
This is the texture your finished salsa should have. Don’t worry if you have blended it smoother. The taste will still be delicious.
6th Step – Adjust the Salt
After blending, taste to check the saltiness and add more salt until you get the desired flavor.
Salsa making tip: When we are adjusting the salt level in a salsa we tend to make it a little on the salty side because when you add the salsa to your food the saltiness will even out.
7th Step – Serve Your Salsa
Uses for Salsa Borracha
This salsa is great on any of the following dishes:
- Shredded beef tacos
- Chicken tacos
- Scrambled eggs (This is a favorite use)
- Tortilla chips (How to make homemade tortilla chips, “totopos”)
- It’s really versatile. Use it on any dish that you’d like.
Pro tip: Your salsa will be even better if you let it rest in the refrigerator for one day before serving. This gives it time for the flavors to meld and deepen.
Salsa Borracha Recipe
- 1 Kitchen knife
- 1 Cutting board
- 1 Blender
- 1 medium serving bowl
- 1 Mexican lager beer 12 oz. bottle or can
- 10 Pasilla chilis
- 1 White onion medium
- 5 Roma tomatoes
- 2 Oranges
- 1 Bunch cilantro
- 3 Cloves garlic
- 1 teaspoon oregano preferably Mexican oregano
- ½ teaspoon salt + salt to taste
Preparing the Chili Peppers
- Seed and devein 5 of the pasilla peppers
- Toast all of the pasilla peppers in a medium hot dry pan for 2 to 3 minutes until fragrant. Do not allow the peppers to burn.
- Add the toasted chili peppers and the beer to a pan. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to a medium simmer. Simmer the pasilla peppers in the beer until most of the liquid has reduced. About 10 minutes
Preparing the Tomatoes, Onions, and Garlic
- Chop the tomatoes and onions into quarters then peel the garlic cloves
- Pan roast the tomatoes, onions, and garlic turning frequently until well browned
Assembling the Salsa
- Add the toasted peppers, roasted vegetables, cilantro and salt to your blender
- Squeeze the juice of the 2 oranges into your blender
- Pulse the mixture until you have a coarse textured salsa
Adjusting the Seasoning and Serving
- Taste and add more salt as needed
- The salsa can be served immediately and it is even better if it rests for 1 day in the refrigerator before serving