Drunken Salsa with “Housemade” Garlic Black Pepper Chips

Drunken Salsa

If you couldn’t guess already, I love living in San Diego.  Aside from having amazing weather and beautiful scenery, San Diego is home to some serious Mexican food.  And I just love Mexican food.  Some of my personal favorites include: a California Burrito (a burrito stuffed with meat, gauc, salsa and french fries), Carne Asada Chips (a pile of fresh tortilla chips topped with gauc, salsa, sour cream and marinated beef) and Carnitas Tamales (marinated pork encased in corn masa).  This week, I decided to bring my love for Mexican food into the kitchen.

This Drunken Salsa is a deliciously complex combination of roasted pasilla peppers, dark beer and tequila.  This is not your average salsa.  The flavors are deep and rich and utterly addicting.  Below, you will also find a recipe for “Housemade” Garlic Black Pepper Chips.  Housemade is in quotes because you really don’t have to “make” much.  So easy and delicious.  Continue reading for the recipes.

Dried Pasilla Chiles Drunken Salsa
Adapted from Fiesta at Rick’s.

2 oz. dried pasilla chiles
Water, for rehydrating
6 garlic cloves, unpeeled
⅓ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
⅓ cup dark beer (I used Negra Modelo)
1 tablespoon good quality tequila
Kosher salt

Roasted Chiles and Dark Beer

Start by preparing your chiles.  Give them a quick rinse and dry.  Using a sharp knife, carefully slice from the stem end to the bottom end on one side of the chile.  Pull off the stem and discard.  Open the chile like a book.  Using your knife, scrape out the ribs and seeds.  Repeat this process with remaining chiles.

Bring a kettle of water to a boil, reduce heat and keep simmering.  This will be used to rehydrate the chiles.

Warm a large skillet over medium heat.  Place garlic cloves on one half of the skillet (the other half will be used to toast the chiles).  Roast the garlic until soft and slightly blackened (about 15 minutes).  Shake the cloves around every so often to ensure even cooking.

Meanwhile, lay one of the chiles flat (inside down) on the other half of the skillet.  Using a spatula or tongs, press down the chile to keep it flat.  Cook until the chile becomes aromatic and the insides have lightened in color (about 15 seconds per side).  Transfer the toasted chile to a medium bowl.  Repeat this process with remaining chiles.

Cover the toasted chiles with hot water and let rehydrate for 30 minutes.  Stir every so often to ensure even soaking.  Drain, but reserve ⅓ cup of the soaking water.  While the chiles are rehydrating, peel the roasted garlic and set aside.

In a blender or food processor, combine the chiles, roasted garlic, orange juice, beer, tequila and ⅓ cup of the soaking water.  Blend until smooth.  Check the consistency with a spoon.  If the salsa is too thick, blend in water until a thinner consistency is a achieved (I added an additional ¼ cup water).  Transfer salsa to a clean bowl.  Season to taste with salt (I added about 1½ teaspoons kosher salt).

Makes 1½ cups.

Garlic Black Pepper Chips “Housemade” Garlic Black Pepper Chips
Adapted from Fiesta at Rick’s.

½ cup light vegetable oil
6 large garlic gloves, peeled and minced
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for sprinkling
1 bag thick cut tortilla chips (preferably from a local Mexican market)

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Warm oil in a small saucepan over medium low heat.  Add the minced garlic and cook until slightly brown and fragrant (about 10 minutes).  Remove from heat and strain into a clean bowl through a fine mesh basket strainer.  Discard solids.

Using a brush, lightly coat each chip with some of the roasted garlic oil.  Spread the chips out onto and rimmed baking sheet and bake until the chips are warm and fragrant (about 10 minutes).  Finish with a sprinkling of freshly ground black pepper and transfer to a serving bowl.

Makes 8 servings.


  1. Hester says

    BEER! I’d have never thought to add beer to the salsa. That definitely does add a depth of flavor that only beer can achieve. This salsa sounds fabulous :-) Kudos to a job well done!

    • Anonymous says

      Hey KG! You could certainly substitute fresh chiles for dried ones; however, you would be making a completely different salsa. Chiles take on different flavors when they go through the drying process. If you do use fresh chiles, I would recommend picking a different kind of beer. Corona perhaps? Something lighter (but not bud light). And lime juice might be better option over orange juice. Let me know how it turns out!

  2. says

    I’m not sure if I did something wrong, but when I made this salsa it turned out terrible. Bit disappointing as it looked like such a promising idea, and so different from the typical salsas I make.


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