Thinking about a margarita party which, of course, led me to think about food to go with margaritas. At a restaurant I used to work at, we made this margarita chicken using the frozen margarita straight out of the machine as the marinade. Spatchcocking is a method of preparing a chicken for cooking by removing the backbone from tail to neck so the chicken can be opened out flat. This gives a shorter cooking time and better access to the exterior of the bird for seasoning. Essentially, the bones of the ribcage are down and do all of the work in cooking.  I also like to use this method for Cornish game hens and most poultry. Choosing Spatchcock style gives the chicken a juicier texture, crispy skin, and speeds the cooking process, which is why I love this preparation. In cutting out the backbone, my preference is to use a good, sharp boning knife, but you can also use a sharp, clean pair of kitchen shears.

Homemade Jalapeno Liqueur

2 jalapenos, sliced in quarters lengthwise with seeds (If you want the drink a little hotter, use serrano or even habanero)

2 tablespoons peppercorns

2/3 cup tequila

2/3 cup vodka

½ cup water

1 ½  cups sugar

Zest of three limes

Place peppercorns, jalapenos, tequila and vodka in mason jar. Tightly seal lid on jar and store in a dark place away from sunlight. Shake daily for 3 weeks or so until the jalapenos resemble pickles. Strain to make syrup.

Bring sugar and water to boil in saucepan, add lime zest and stir until sugar melts. Remove from heat. Add ½ cup of infused jalapeno alcohol. Pour into clean mason jar and reserve to use.

Jalapeno Frozen Margaritas

½ ounce lemon juice

2 ounces lime juice

1 ounce orange juice

1/3 cup fresh chopped pineapple

2 ounces jalapeno liqueur (above)

2 ounces tequilla


I like to use a Frozen Margarita Maker Machine to make this recipe because the shaved ice makes a smoother drink. Put all ingredients in the blender part of the machine. Put the ice in the top. Shave the ice into the blender until full. Turn on the blender function just until blended. Pour margarita into glass and garnish with small slice of jalapeno or lime wedge. (I don’t like salt with my frozen margaritas, but if you do, salt the rim before pouring.)

Jalapeno Margarita Marinade

1 cup  frozen margarita

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 tablespoon hatch green chile powder

1 teaspoon pureed garlic

½ cup olive oil

Pour frozen margarita into a Ziploc bag. Sprinkle in spices and olive oil. Zip the bag shut and massage to mix. 

Spatchcock Style Chicken

To prepare the chicken, remove any neck parts and gizzards. Rinse the whole chicken, inside and out, and dry with paper towel. Place chicken, breast-side down, on a cutting board. Use boning knife or kitchen shears to cut along the backbone of the chicken from tail to neck on both sides to remove the backbone. Press down on the wings to break the backbone and flatten the bird. Because the wingtips usually burn in cooking, cut these off and save with the other chicken parts. Freeze the wings, backbone, neck and gizzards for later use in making stock.

Place the whole chicken in the bag with the marinade and let it sit for 45 minutes. (Unless you plan to let it sit for longer than 45 minutes, you don’t need to refrigerate the chicken. Just keep it somewhere cool in the kitchen. Because of the citrus in the marinade, don’t let the chicken sit longer than 45 minutes. The citrus will break down the chicken too much. 

Jalapeno Margarita Chicken

3 tablespoons olive oil + 1 tablespoon olive oil + 1 tablespoon olive oil

2 cloves sliced garlic

½ red onion, sliced

1 yellow onion, sliced

½ green bell pepper, sliced

½ red bell pepper, sliced

1 teaspoon chili powder

Fresh ground black pepper


Steam the potatoes in water until just barely fork tender. Place potatoes in a bowl with one tablespoon olive oil and heavy pinch of salt. Stir to combine. Place the potatoes in the bottom of an oven-safe cast iron skillet. In a separate skillet, heat one tablespoon olive oil. Saute peppers and onions until translucent. Add chili powder and a dash of salt and pepper and stir. Layer the peppers and onions on top of the potatoes in the oven-safe skillet. Do not stir. Remove chicken from marinade and lay it on top of the skillet, meat side up. Generously salt and pepper the chicken. Pour some of the marinade over the chicken. Bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes until golden and done throughout. 

To serve, make another pitcher of margaritas and eat chicken and drink margaritas until your tummy is full.

I remember my grandfather’s second wife, Mimi, making this green chile stew at the holidays. She was from New Mexico, so she made many dishes with green chiles. I especially remember this one because she used the leftover pot roast instead of pork – because my grandfather loved pot roast. The heat in the green chiles feels good on a cold day.

4 cups chopped green chiles, divided

1 quart chicken stock, divided

2 soft corn tortillas

7 cloves chopped garlic, divided

4 tablespoons dark chili powder, divided

2 large red bell peppers, chopped

1 large yellow onion, chopped

1 quart (32ounces) chicken stock

2 cups roasted corn, cut off the cob

1 can drained and rinsed black beans

2 cups leftover pot roast, chopped

Place ½ cup of the green chiles, 1 cup of the broth, tortillas, 3 of the garlic cloves, and 2 tablespoons of the chile powder in a blender. Puree until smooth. Set aside until later. In a large dutch oven over medium high heat, saute onions, peppers, and remaining garlic for 5-7 minutes just until a little color appears. Add remaining green chiles, remaining broth, corn and beans and bring to a boil. When it starts to boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes. Add pot roast, and tortilla puree and simmer for an additional 10 min. Serve with corn chips and cheese (this was how I had it as a kid).

Vegetarian option

This can be made into a vegetarian stew if you eliminate the meat and use vegetable broth instead of the chicken broth.

Chimichurri is a light, oil-based condiment with origins in Argentina. The name comes from a Spanish Basque word that means “a mixture of several things in noparticular order.” In South America, each family has their own version of a chimichurri recipe handed down over centuries. I like it because it is bright and fresh with a ridiculous amount of flavor. Plus, it is great to use throughout all of the dishes for an entire meal. One tip, though—rough chop the parsley and cilantro by hand. If you use a food processor the herbs will turn to puree and you will end up with baby food instead of a condiment or sauce.

Chimichurri Base

3 cups packed cilantro leaves, chopped

6 cloves garlic, chopped

1 teaspoon chili flakes

6 tablespoons olive oil

1 serrano chili, chopped

½ cup red wine vinegar

1 cup olive oil

1 tablespoon lemon verbena, chopped

1 tablespoon thyme, chopped

1 lemon, zest and juice

Salt and pepper to taste

Dump all ingredients in food processor and pulse for about 10 seconds. Divide into two half-portions. Use one half-portion of chimichurri base as marinade for flatiron steak. Use second half-portion of chimichurri base to make marinade for tomatoes, salad vinaigrette, and meat drizzle.

Chimichurri Marinated Flatiron Steak

1 1/3 pounds flatiron steak

6 shallots cut in half

1 cup chimichurri base

1 yellow zucchini, cut in half

1 green zucchini, cut in half

Pour chimichurri base on steak in pan and lay shallots on top. Let sit for at least 3 hours up to 5 hours. Remove steak from marinade and grill for 3-4 minutes. Grill zucchini for 3 minutes. Then, put back in pan and finish in 350 degree oven for 10-12 minutes.

Marinated Tomatoes

¼ cup chimichurri base

2 drops oregano essential oil

3 drops black pepper essential oil

1 drop lemon essential oil

2 large heirloom tomatoes, chopped (or 4 cups chopped)

2 ounces shaved manchego cheese

Place all ingredients except cheese in bowl and let sit for couple of hours. Right before serving, mix cheese into tomatoes.

Chimichurri Vinaigrette

½ cup chimichurri base, pureed

1 teaspoon mustard

1 tablespoon honey

1 medium shallot, sliced

¼ cup olive oil

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 drops oregano essential oil

2 drops lemon essential oil

2 drops thyme essential oil

Place all ingredients in a shaker cup and shake well to combine.

Chimichurri Meat Drizzle

¼ cup chimichurri base

2 drops oregano essential oil

2 drops black pepper essential oil

1 drop lemon essential oil

2 drops rosemary essential oil

Combine all ingredients in shaker cup and shake well to combine. Drizzle over grilled flatiron steak as finish.

Grilled Salad

2 cups baby arugula

2 heads Romaine lettuce, cut in half

Brush of chimichurri base

2 ounces shaved manchego cheese

Chimichurri Vinaigrette

4 slices Italian Rustic bread

Brush cut-side of lettuce with chimichurri base. Place cut side down on oven burner or grill. Chop grilled lettuce and arugula together. Mix half of cheese into chopped salad mix. Toss with Chimichurri Vinaigrette. Grill bread on oven burner then put in oven to finish for 5 minutes to make crisp like a crouton.

Putting it All Together

Lay grilled bread on plate. Top with grilled salad mix. Slice zucchini and lay on top of grilled salad mix. Spoon marinated tomatoes and cheese over salad mix. Slice flatiron steak and lay on top of tomatoes. Last, drizzle with chimichurri drizzle and salt and pepper to taste.