3 Secrets for Cooking with Tequila

Having worked in some of the country’s most cutting-edge kitchens, including Boston’s Clio, New York City’s wd~50 and Chicago’s Alinea, chef Alex Stupak is well versed in pushing the culinary envelope.

Stupak opened Empellón Taqueria in New York City in 2011, pursuing a personal passion for modern Mexican food and Tequila. His creative take on South-of-the-border eats proved so successful that it spawned two spinoffs in Manhattan, Empellón Cocina and Empellón Al Pastor.

“People are finally recognizing Mexican cuisine for its deep, rich and multifaceted qualities, instead of thinking of it as street food,” says Stupak. “One trend I think that diners will see is the integration of Tequila into cooking and food pairings, much like how wine is incorporated into French cuisine.

“Many of us were first introduced to Tequila as a drink that you shoot, but with an increase in [the] variety of sipping Tequilas on the market, these spirits carry a richness of flavors that can be highlighted in Mexican cuisine.”

Here are Stupak’s tips on how to bring the trend home, plus a Tequila-infused recipe.

1. Don’t be afraid of using high-end Tequila in recipes.
“I was recently asked to do a Tequila pairing dinner, and I mixed a Jose Cuervo Reserva de la Familia Extra Añejo into a smoky, tomatillo-based red chili salsa. The natural sweetness and caramel flavors of the Tequila resulted in a great borracha (“drunken salsa,” recipe below), and the rich vanilla notes work well with the Oaxaqueño chilies and tomatillos.”


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