Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Bloody Maria - Verde-Style

Those of you who have been following Dinner Plan-it for a while, know of my penchant for Bloody Marys. Those of you who just stumbled upon this blog also now know of my not-so-secret favorite cocktail!  Blame it on my Uncle Harry who mixed these vodka concoctions for weekend brunches back in the 50's (yes, I was way too young to be drinking them...but those sneaked sips had me hooked!) and served them with my very first ever Eggs Benedict. The man could COOK!  And he mixed a mean cocktail.  (He also made one refreshing ADULT snowball in the summer with shaved ice, sloe gin and chocolate syrup, too...that's for another post...maybe in the heat of July or August.)

A while ago, my Restaurant Week post prominently featured a Bloody Maria from Verde Kitchen + Cantina.  I have to tell you this is THE best in the city.  Smooth yet with a kick of heat and subtle undertones of mysterious Mexican peppers, Verde's version is divine. Like all of my favorite Bloodies, Verde's is a homemade mix.  What makes their Bloody so special? Hannah, Verde's lovely bar manager, shared with me the secret of a couple of the ingredients - fresh garlic and dried guajillo peppers.  Could I duplicate their subtly spicy red magic?  I gave it a try.

I toasted a few dried guajillo peppers in a dry skillet, covered them with water and simmered until they softened. After the guajillos were cooled and moved to a big glass bowl, I tossed in a few cloves of garlic, some jalapenos, lime AND lemon juice, celery ribs, cumin, mesquite smoked salt (my new find!) along with a few other goodies and let it mellow out overnight in the fridge. How did it turn out?

It was WONDERFUL!  Did it match the sublime Verde version? Nope. Is it one of my best homegrown versions? Absolutely! I'll be making these regularly for brunch at home, but I'll STILL be looking forward to Sunday, Bloody Sundays at Verde.

Oh! Here's a little preview of coming attractions...I served these at a fun brunch on our deck last Sunday to some food blogger friends and cocktail cohorts. Recipes for Szechuan Smoked Pork Belly and Grilled Pina Coladas coming up! Soon. 

Bloody Marias - Verde-Style

  • 2 T. wheat free Tamari - or soy sauce if gluten isn't an issue for you
  • 2 ribs celery - sliced thinly across
  • 2 garlic cloves - smashed, left whole
  • 1 large jalapeno - sliced thinly
  • 2 t. mesquite smoked salt
  • 2 t. cumin
  • a handful of cilantro leaves
  • a large dried guajillo pepper - broken into large pieces (you can find these in the Mexican section of Giant Eagle or (more fun!) Reyna's in the Strip District)
  • the juice of 1 lime
  • the juice of 1 lemon
  • a bottle of high fiber V-8 - I think it gives a better mouthfeel and substance to the mix

Start by toasting the dried chile in a dry skillet (I love cast iron for this) over medium heat. When it smells warm and toasty, cover with water, bring to a boil, lower heat immediately and simmer until it is soft and pliable. Remove and cool.

In a large glass bowl, add all of the above ingredients along with the toasted and softened guajillo pepper pieces. Stir and refrigerate overnight, covered.

The next day, remove the solids from the liquids with a large slotted spoon or spider and squeeze all the liquid from the solids letting the liquid fall back into the bowl. Once all the solids have been removed you have Bloody Mary or Bloody Maria base! Transfer to a glass or plastic pitcher and refrigerate until cocktail time. 

Assembly: In a pint glass or Mason jar, pour 1 1/2-2 ounces of mezcal, tequila or vodka - whichever you prefer (I like smoky mezcal in a Bloody Maria). Add the Bloody Mary base 2/3 of the way of the glass, add ice to the top and garnish with fresh lime. Stir gently. Enjoy.

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