May it Please the Palate

Spicy Margaritas With Biscuits. Enjoy Immediately.

My weekend was very educational. I learned that some deviously sick individual has come up with the combination of margaritas, cilantro, and jalapeños. Far from being un-potable, this concoction deviously harmonizes the sweet-tartness of a classic margarita, with the spice and heat from muddling the herb and the peppers before mixing the drink ingredients.
I chose this particular recipe from that hotbed of Mexican cuisine, Rhode Island. I did so mainly because of the last line, “Enjoy immediately.” It’s a command, so take it to heart.

Cilantro-Jalapeño Margarita

3 sprigs fresh cilantro
2–3 slices jalapeño (1 for garnish)
1 cup ice
1-1/2 ounces Corralejo Blanco or other tequila
3/4 ounce Cointreau or other orange liqueur
1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
1–2 teaspoons agave nectar
1 lime wedge (for garnish)
Kosher salt (for garnish)

In a cocktail shaker, muddle the cilantro and 1–2 slices of jalapeño. Add the ice and all other ingredients and shake well. Rim an 8-ounce rocks glass with the lime wedge then dip in salt. Pour the shaken margarita into the glass and garnish the rim with the lime wedge and the remaining slice of jalapeño. Enjoy immediately. Makes 1 drink.
And then I thought, what would you want to eat with these spicy, salty margaritas? How about warm flaky cheddar jalapeño biscuits with cornbread and cream? According to the recipe, the “secret ingredient” of these surprisingly light treats is a quarter cup of cornmeal or polenta added to the flour, lending a slight crunch. Top these with extra grated cheddar for an even cheesier edge.

Cheddar and Jalapeño Biscuits

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup polenta or fine milled corn meal
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pinch cayenne pepper
6 ounces (1-1/2 cups packed) shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided (1 1/4 cup and 1/4 cup)
2 tablespoons diced fresh jalapeños (more or less to taste)
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons heavy cream, plus extra for brushing
1. Preheat oven to 425°. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, polenta, salt, sugar, cayenne, and baking powder. Stir in 1 1/4 cups of the grated cheddar cheese and the diced jalapeños.

2. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Pour the cream into the center of the well and your hands to gently bring together the ingredients. If you need to add a bit more cream then do so a tiny trickle at a time. You just want everything to get wet enough so that the dough will be sticky and clumpy.

3. Turn the dough out onto a surface lightly dusted with flour. Knead the dough just a few times - maybe only three or four pushes. You just want it to come together. (Over-kneading will result in firmer, denser biscuits.)

4. Form the dough into a disc about 3/4-inch to an inch thick. Use a biscuit cutter (or a small juice glass) to cut round biscuit shapes out of the disk. Combine the leftover dough and keep forming small round biscuit shapes until the dough is used up.

5. Place on a Silpat-lined or parchment lined baking sheet, with at least an inch or two between the biscuits. Brush the tops of the biscuits with a little more cream. Top the biscuits with a sprinkle of the remaining cheese.

6 Bake at 425°F for 11-12 minutes or until golden and the cheese is nicely melted. Makes 10-12 biscuits.

This delicious duo makes for a happy hour that might dangerously extend into the wee hours, especially when that warm spring sun starts making us think about the lazy warmer days ahead.

Nick Roumel is a principal with Nacht, Roumel, Salvatore, Blanchard, and Walker PC, a firm in Ann Arbor specializing in employment and civil right litigation. He also has many years of varied restaurant and catering experience, has taught Greek cooking classes, and writes a food/restaurant column for “Current” magazine in Ann Arbor. He occasionally updates his blog at