Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Margarita Sorbet

I'm now playing with my new ice cream machine, so I'm gonna put up the recipes that I create myself. OK, I'm gonna put up the ones that work. The others, I'll probably hide from the light of day.

I got the machine a few weeks back. I was watching Iron Chef and thought, "Damnit, I want an ice cream machine!" So I started looking at machines, and the reviews are sort of all over the place. The one thing that was consistent, though, was that people felt the machines under about $700 can't produce rich, smooth ice creams reliably. I was gonna use a chunk of tax rebate to buy a really expensive machine, and decided it was worth trying a cheap one. I found a Cuisinart ICE-20 on Craigslist for $20. Can't beat that. Better yet, it comes with a second bowl. Pretty much every maker under $300 is the "freezethisbowlfortwelvehours" type, or the really old school rock salt and ice type. So having a second bowl allows me to make two batches at a time. When you're an addict like I am, well... Anyway, so far this thing has done a great job. Rich, creamy ice cream, smooth, well developed sorbet. Glad I decided to try for the $20 before spending $700.

Quick aside. In 2000, Lukafresh and I went shopping at the Albertson's in University Village. They had a sale. $2 pints of Ben and Jerry's. Fresh is an ice cream addict. I am an ice cream addict. It was like if the guy at the corner of 2nd and Bell announced half of on rocks. We went bananas. We literally filled our shopping cart with ice cream. Our freezer wouldn't fit it all. We had to eat like 4 pints right away so they wouldn't melt. The freezer was empty in two weeks or so.

Anyway, now you probably understand my ice cream addiction somewhat. Sorbet plays a critical role in the ice cream universe. Sore throat? Sorbet. Feel bogged down by a heavy meal? Sorbet. Too hot to eat something creamy? Sorbet.

I've got a bottle of tequila that's just a little too harsh to drink naked. So I thought, "hey, I'll turn you into sorbet!" Looked up a recipe or six, and settled on one.

But the problem with these recipes is that the creators either a) have never been bartenders or b) took no pride in the margaritas they made if they were. Apparently what they wanted to create was an homage to the Jose Cuervo pre-mix margarita you buy in the grocery store. That is not what I wanted. So I took the ice cream theory from the recipes, and mixology theory from my own experience, and churned this recipe out:

2 cups water
3/4 cup sugar
2/3 cup lime juice (I recommend key lime for this recipe)
3T lemon juice
6T tequila
8T orange juice
2T triple sec (optional, I prefer without)

Combine water and sugar, heat on medium until completely integrated. Once the sugar dissolved, raise heat and bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Add all other ingredients. Mix thoroughly. Chill until fully cold (in the fridge if you're patient, with an ice bath if you're like me). Freeze in your machine according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Here's a key step - when you transfer from the machine to your container, use a broad spoon or spatula to gently mix it together. It'll come out of your machine with inconsistent texture - the stuff on the outside will be very dry and frozen, some will be more soupy. If you don't mix it until it's consistent, it'll freeze unevenly. In particular, the tequila will run out and make tequila ice around the edges, while the rest will have little tequila flavor.

Once it's in your container, freeze it for 2-4 hours to ripen. Then enjoy. Amy, who eats about 1/3 the ice cream I do, ate the better part of a quart of this in 48 hours. I just had to make a second batch.

Here's the mixology breakdown (and the ingredients I didn't see in any other recipe):

In the states, most margaritas are sweet and sour, tequila and triple sec. You might get lucky and get it muddled with fresh lime. You might get even luckier and have homemade sweet and sour. You might get truly lucky and get a bartender who understands that a margarita should have a splash of OJ. The recipes all behave like you want a TGI Friday's margarita. I dunno about you, but I don't. So what's up with the ingredients I used?

Lemon juice - in my opinion, sweet and sour should be about 2/3 lime, 1/3 lemon. The lemon counters the lime nicely, and adds dimension to the flavor. You won't get lemon in most scratch margaritas in Mexico, but for the purposes of either homemade sweet and sour or this recipe, it'll give you a nice depth.

Orange juice - the sweetness of the orange is how you get a margarita smooth. Triple sec is just orange liqueur, and if you use it here you'll get the syrupy flavor of an airport bar margarita. It'll also cause the freezing to be even more uneven, making it more likely you end up with a dry, lightly flavored section and an ice cube of liquor around the edge. Use fresh orange to dull the edge a little, and because the flavor of juice is much nicer than the flavor of DeKuyper.

In Mexico, almost every scratch margarita you'll get has four ingredients: Tequila, triple sec, fresh lime, oj (plenty of sloppy margaritas to be had there, too, with garbage and sugar covering up lousy tequila and laziness). Because our palette has been destroyed by chain restaurants and sloppy bartenders, it's hard to make a margarita without a ton of unnecessary sugar and some extra stuff. This recipe is about 2/3 real margarita, 1/3 Americanized. But I think you'll enjoy it.

What cocktail or booze-based frozen treat should I attempt next?


Mira said...

Coffee with Bailey's, or Frangelico, or Tia maria, or... you get my drift. Must find cheap ice cream machine!

Evan Sutton said...

mmmm, yes. I just made a coffee ice cream that was pretty good but a little too dark roast flavor. Maybe I'll do a Mexican coffee or an Irish coffee next...

Arthur said...

Ben and Jerry's has a Dublin Mudslide Irish Cream flavor that is awesome. Would be even better if it was made fresh. I think I might break into your house and steal your freezer!

Katie said...

Tamarind margarita! ....to expand on the theme...

Anonymous said...

A frozen mojito!!