How to make salsa borracha, a classic in Mexican cuisine which gets its name from the addition of alcohol. A veritable fiesta for the palate.
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Continue reading for relevant info, step by step pics and video (2 mins)
Salsa Borracha Portrayed
Salsa borracha is a thick sauce with the texture of a puree (salsa = sauce in Spanish) made with pan roasted dried chiles (typically pasilla), tomatoes, onion, garlic, fresh chiles (ex, jalapenos) and a choice of alcohol. Hence the drunken salsa name.
You can also describe it as a boozy cooked salsa. The original alcohol for salsa borracha is pulque, a fermented beverage from the sap of the Maguey plant, Agavaceae family. As the ancient, milky white alcoholic drink lost popularity in the 19th century tequila and beer emerged as common replacements.
Today in Northern Mexico the alcohol of choice is dark lager while in the central parts of the country, especially in the Mexico City area, preference is given to tequila.
NOTE: In either version most of the alcohol is cooked off. What is left is pure flavor without which Salsa Borracha will not taste quite the same.
What Does Salsa Borracha Taste Like?
Pasilla peppers lend it a deep earthy, raisin-like sweetness and a touch of heat (pasilla translates to little raisin, pasilla is a dried chilaca chile).
The beer version of drunk salsa has toasty notes and malty sweetness which prime the palate for the ensuing toasted chiles hug and heat from the pan grilled jalapeno.
The tequila and orange juice version is sharper/more vibrant and teases the palate with a sweet and sour zing.
Beer or Tequila?
As any objective observer can infer from the name of this blog we strongly favor cooking with beer. Accordingly, we prefer the Mexican beer version but fear not – we also include directions on how to make salsa borracha with tequila and orange juice in the recipe card.
Another reason the beer version is a regular in our home is because traditionally it is made with one of our most favorite beer styles – Vienna lager, more commonly known as dark Mexican lager.
Read about how Mexico saved the Vienna lager style from extinction after the Europeans went crazy over ever lighter lagers in the style of Pilsner.
We chose Red Truck Beer Company Baja Bound Mexican Lager to use in this post. It is a fine example of Vienna lager, modeled after Negra Modelo with a tuned down hops bite yet very balanced. On account of its elegant maltiness and bready character it is also destined to shine in many of a cooking with beer recipes.
You Will Need:
- a heavy bottomed skillet
- a blender/food processor
and the following ingredients
- pasilla chiles or similar rich flavored and heat-wise mild chile de ristra (dried chiles)
- roma tomatoes – you want them to be ripe, but still quite firm
- fresh chile such as jalapeños – this becomes the source of the heat in the salsa and you are in control of its intensity
- dark Mexican lager (brewed in the Vienna lager style)
- a bit of cooking oil
- fresh cilantro for garnish
- Cotija cheese crumbles – the earthy saltiness of Cotija is perfect but if you cannot find it you can use feta cheese crumbles
How To Make Salsa Borracha
The most essential step is to prepare the dried chiles. Do this first then proceed with the rest.
- Start by cleaning and de-seeding the dried chiles as shown below. You only need the flesh.
- Simply remove the tops using a knife, slice vertically towards the bottom and remove the seeds. Most likely you will only need to shake the pasillas for the seeds to spill out on their own.
- Heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat and toast the cleaned dried chiles in it. You will notice them puff up from the heat – turn them around a few times before removing them from the hot skillet.
- Place the toasted chiles in hot water and let them steep while you work with the rest of the ingredients.
- In the same hot skillet pan grill the halved roma tomatoes, the quartered onion, the halved and de-seeded jalapenos and the whole garlic cloves. The goal is to char them nicely and heat them through – they will begin to soften, but do not need to be completely cooked. No need for oil in the pan at this stage. See pics below or watch video.
- Transfer the pan grilled veggies to a blender or food processor, add the soaked pasilla peppers (leave the intensely colored water behind).
- Add the beer or tequila + OJ and blend.
- In the same skillet heat a bit of cooking oil and add the mixture, bring it so simmer, season with salt and pepper, stir well and simmer for a few minutes until it thickens.
- Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with chopped cilantro and Cotija.
Other Salsa and Beer Variations
- Sometimes salsa borracha is made with just the pasilla/dried peppers and no other vegetables. This results in an intense earthy and raisin sweet flavor. Use 8-10 pasillas and follow the recipe steps omitting the pan grilled other ingredients.
- For a more intense smoked flavor consider using smoked beer (Rauchbier) or mezcal instead of dark Mexican lager or tequila.
- If you are craving a stronger sour taste, add a bit of lime juice after you are done simmering the salsa borracha.
Salsa Borracha Serving Ideas
Plain cheese quesadillas and cheese tortillas (the open face cheese quesadillas you get in small Mexican restaurants around Arizona) are both great.
The salsa borracha is a perfect accompaniment to Mexican lamb barbacoa, especially when presented as tacos. You can also use it as the salsa roja to go with Tacos al Pastor or carne asada tacos.
You Might Enjoy
Mexican Torta Sandwiches
Beer Marinated Steak
Tacos al Pastor
Roasted Boneless Pork Shoulder
Jalapeno Beer Cheese Dip
Authentic Salsa Borracha (Mexican Recipe for Salsa and Beer)
Salsa borracha is a rich flavored, low to medium hot salsa made with dried chiles such as pasilla and further flavored by dark Mexican lager or tequila and orange juice. Hence the name 'drunk' salsa.
- 4 pasilla chiles, or other low heat dried chile
- 4 Roma tomatoes, ripe, but firm
- 1 medium onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 jalapenos
- 1/2 cup dark Mexican lager OR 2 oz tequila + 2 oz orange juice
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 2 tbsp Cotija cheese , crumbles
- 1 tbsp cilantro, chopped
- Clean the dried chiles - remove the tops and slice lengthwise to remove all the seeds. Toast them in a hot skillet for just over a minute or until they begin to puff up and smoke. Remove from pan and soak in hot water for 10-15 minutes.
- To the same hot skillet add the halved tomatoes, peeled and quartered onion, halved jalapenos (seeds and veins removed to tune down heat) and the peeled garlic cloves. Toast until they get nicely charred and soften and remove from pan.
- In a blender or food processor add the toasted tomatoes, onion, jalapenos, garlic and soaked chiles (discard the water). Add the beer OR the tequila and orange juice. Process until well blended and near smooth.
- Heat oil in the same skillet over medium high, add the borracha mixture from the blender and bring to simmer stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper and simmer until the mixture thickens, about 5 minutes.
- Transfer the salsa borracha to a serving bowl and while still warm garnish with fresh cilantro and Cotija crumbles. Serve.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 2 Serving Size: 2 cups
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 89Saturated Fat: 0.8gCholesterol: 2mgSodium: 4mgCarbohydrates: 11.7gFiber: 3.6gSugar: 5.8gProtein: 2.6g
How long do you expect this stays good refrigerated?
About a week is as long as we’ve kept it.Usually it is consumed fresh and it does taste really good when warm.
It looks awesome! So much flavors packed on this recipe that makes this simply irresistible, definitely having this on my table!
Bolshoe spasibo, Olga! This salsa really is a winner – the flavors come together so nicely, it is hard to believe! Thank you for stopping by!
Jennifer @ Seasons and Suppers says
That colour is fabulous! I have never heard of this, but you have sold me. Will be trying this one 🙂
Yes, you are right! The dried chiles really lend it a gorgeous deep red. Hope you enjoy it soon!
Wow. This is fabulous! And I have Padilla peppers on hand! Thanks so much, and beautiful photos!
Thank you! Very happy you stopped by.
Kelsie | the itsy-bitsy kitchen says
Chips and salsa (and tequila) are my weakness. I’m 100% trying this soon. Maybe next Saturday while I’m watching football? I’ll probably want the kick of booze after the way Oregon played yesterday 🙂 Hope you had a great weekend!
I hear you! I love having a tequila shot chased by beer and lots of chips and salsa!!!
Dawn - Girl Heart Food says
OMG – this sounds so good! And that colour is super rich! I love the suggestion of serving with cheese quesadillas….though, you can never go wrong with chips 😉
Totally – the cheese tortillas just make the perfect scoop:)