Attempting to make a prickly pear margarita, in the past weeks I began by trying to make my own prickly pear syrup. That first syrup attempt was a disaster.
Now, I am very happy to report dual success. I have a great prickly pear margarita recipe, using prickly pear syrup, and just the recipe to make that syrup.
You’ve seen Emeril Lagasse on TV and may have formed some opinion, pro or con. Take all those TV images and put them aside. Emeril is a wonderful man, so loyal to his employees and quite devoted to creating the best food possible.
This is his prickly pear margarita recipe. Now, I often play with a recipe and very often a cocktail will taste good, but not exceptional. This margarita is perfect. I would not change an atom in it and you will love it. It reflects great care in testing and balancing all the flavors to achieve a beverage that just rocks. It’s perfect.
It does use prickly pear syrup and the recipe for that follows below.
Prickly Pear Margarita
Yield: 1 drink
- 3 ounces tequila blanco [not gold because that will color clash!]
- ½ ounce Cointreau or other good orange liqueur
- 1 ½ ounces lime juice
- 2 ounces prickly pear syrup
- Kosher salt or Turbinado sugar for garnishing the glass
- Lime slices or kumquats for garnish if desired
Combine the tequila, Cointreau, lime juice and pear syrup in an ice-filled cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously to incorporate. Wet the rim of a margarita glass and dip into salt, sugar, or a mixture of both. Pour the margarita into an ice-filled glass. Garnish with a kumquat and curled piece of lime peel.
Source: Emeril Lagasse on the Food Network
Prickly Pear Syrup
Yield: 1 quart
- 8 prickly pears
- 2 cups of sugar
Skin the prickly pears and cut each one into 4-6 chunks. Put into a blender and blend until smooth. Pour the liquid through a sieve to remove seeds and any fiber.
If at all possible, use a Vitamix for this step. You’ll get significantly more liquid — 3 prickly pears will give you the same amount of juice as 4 using a conventional blender.
Measure the amount of juice. You should have about 2 cups. Place the juice into a saucepan. Use medium heat to bring the juice to a simmer. Add the same volume of sugar, about 2 cups, as you had juice. Stir constantly to incorporate the sugar. Let simmer for 2 minutes more. Turn off the heat and allow to sit in the pan for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Cool to room temperature and refrigerate.
Source: Brian O’Rourke inspired by multiple web sites
I was stunned. This recipe was sitting right there in front of me on a printed page — a page that is 26 years old — and it suggested something I never imagined. And it’s all so simple.
I have made a zillion margaritas. Well, less than a zillion but lord knows more than a thousand. I’ve done lemons. I’ve done limes. Lemons and limes together in many different proportions.
And here, the idea was to use oranges [with a hint of lime]. The concept works. You get a different, sweeter flavor and this beautiful color.
For your New Year’s Eve party — whether it is a party of 1 or 100 — this is a lovely way to greet the New Year.
And, Suzen and I both hope that 2013 is a better, brighter, happier year for you.
Killer Orange Margarita
Yield: serves 2
- Juice from 5 limes [about ¼ cup]
- Juice from 2 oranges [about 1 cup]
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 5 ounces orange liqueur [consider Mandarin Napoleon]
- 5 ounces gold tequila
- Optional garnish elements: salt, sugar … [yes, sugar, don’t knock it until you’ve tried it]
Shake the juice, sugar, and liquor elements with crushed ice in a cocktail shaker. Serve in a margarita glass, optionally rimmed with salt or sugar. Put a modest amount of crushed ice in the glass to keep the drink brightly cold.
Garnish with a citrus slice: orange, lemon, or lime.
Source: adapted from Southwest Tastes by Ellen Brown