Melissa Elsmo

One of my all-time favorite Mexican restaurants famously crams a twenty piece mariachi band in a room the size of a standard elementary school classroom.Tables are arranged tightly to accommodate as many patrons as possible leaving just enough room for carts carrying the makings for Mexican flaming bananas to weave throughout the room. Flames lick the back of your neck if your seat happens to be too close to the cart when the fruit is ignited and invariably the smoke detectors in the crowded dining room begin to scream.The scene in the restaurant is at  once deafening and delightful. 

While music blares and fires flare, hard working men and women prepare guacamole and salsa tableside from minimal ingredients while lucky guest sip a ice cold margarita on the rocks. Nothing more than lime juice, tomato, cilantro, red onion and avocado are mixed with a mortar and pestle to produce a batch pristine guacamole as a bounty of colorful food begins making its way to the table. 

Trays laden with grilled shrimp, spicy chorizo, and shredded chicken are flanked by soft corn tortillas and cabbage slaw. It’s a hands on eating affair celebrating simple ingredients, fresh flavor and lively culture. 

Margaritas and mariachi bands go hand in hand when May 5th rolls around in the United States. Taking inspiration from the five ingredient guacamole, I figured out that capturing the vibrant Mexican spirit and turning out a restaurant worthy buffet at home is as simple as putting the cinco in Cinco de Mayo. 

Accompanied by a colorful five ingredient tequila cocktail, my fiesta worthy recipes  feature no more than five simple ingredients and are sure to bring your Cinco de Mayo celebration to life.

Five Fiesta Worthy Recipes with Five Ingredients: 

Serve this preppy looking cocktail with the four dishes below and a pile of warm corn tortillas. You can double the cocktail recipe to make a couple of drinks and should feel free to double the recipes to feed eight. 

Pink Grapefruit Paloma: 

  • Margarita or Kosher Salt 
  • 1 ½ ounce Tequila 
  • ¼ of a lime 
  • 6-8 ounces Pink Grapefruit Soda 
  • Cucumber Spear 

Wet the rim of a highball glass and dip into the salt to coat. Add the tequila to the glass and squeeze the lime into the tequila. Add ice to the glass and top with the soda. Stir well and garish with the cucumber spear. 

Chipotle Orange Chicken: 

  • 1 orange halved and thinly sliced 
  • 2 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
  • roughly chopped 
  • 2 Tablespoons of Honey 
  • 3 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
  • 4 thinly chicken breasts (about 1 ½ pounds)

Whisk together the oranges, chipotle, honey and olive oil in a glass bowl. Add the chicken to the marinade and turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and grill or sauté for 5 minutes per side or until cooked through. Allow to rest for several minutes before slicing on the bias. 

Pickled Onions: 

  • 2/3 Cup of Red wine vinegar 
  • 1/3 Cup of Orange juice concentrate, thawed 
  • 1/3 Cup of sugar 
  • 1 teaspoon of oregano 
  • 1 Red onion, halved and thinly sliced 

Combine the vinegar, OJ, sugar and oregano in a reusable storage container. Cover and shake well to combine. Add the onions and push down to submerge. Allow mixture to sit at room temperature for 24 before serving or refrigerating. Onions will keep for 1 week in the refrigerator. 

Sweet Pepper Rajas: 

  • 2 Sweet Peppers, preferably red and yellow 
  • 1 Shallot, thinly sliced 1 Bay Leaf 
  • ¼ Cup Mexican Crema or Sour Cream 
  • 1/3 Cup Crumbled Cotija Cheese 

Roast the chiles until charred and blistered over gas burners or under a preheated broiler. Place peppers in a paper bag, close, and set aside for 20 minutes. Remove charred skins, stems, seeds and membranes from peppers and slice into 1/4″ strips. 

Heat about 1 Tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet and cook the shallot until well browned and cooked through about 5 minutes. Add the roasted peppers and bay leaf. Season with salt and cook until heated through and fragrant. Add 2 Tablespoons of water and simmer for 4 minutes. Add the crema and stir until creamy. Add the cotija and stir until smooth. Adjust seasoning, remove bay leaf. 

Radish and Mango Salsa: 

  • 6 radishes, halved and thinly sliced 
  • 1 mango, diced 
  • 1 small jalapeno, seeded and minced 
  • ¼ Cup of chopped, cilantro 
  • The juice of 1 lime 

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Season with salt and set aside until ready to use.

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