Aaron Sanchez shares summer’s best food and beverage pairing recipes


Move over hot dogs and hamburgers. Aaron Sanchez has some delicious recipes that are the summer’s best food and beverage pairings.

Celebrated chef and MasterChef judge Aaron Sanchez wants you to re-think your next summer barbecue. Summer’s best food and beverage pairing isn’t hot dogs, hamburgers and beer. Tacos and tequila are the flavorful summer food pairing that you are craving.

While Taco Tuesday has taken over weekly menu planning, tacos are also becoming a favorite food for summer parties. Taco recipes can be extremely flavorful. From vegetarian options to bold carne asada, recipes can fit any occasion.

Aaron Sanchez recipe, Carne Asada Tacos, photo provided by Tortilla Awards

One of the keys to a delicious taco is the tortilla. A homemade tortilla can make a huge difference in a recipe. Aaron Sanchez wants to celebrate that humble tortilla in a new competition, the Tortilla Awards. This nationwide competition seeks to find the “the competition pits the five best tortilla-makers in each city.” Competitions will be held in Los Angeles, Chicago and Austin. Could you make the freshest, most delicious tortilla?

To start preparing for this ultimate tortilla competition, Aaron Sanchez and Tequila Cazadores have partnered on some delicious taco and tequila pairings. Tacos and tequila are a classic combination, but that combination doesn’t have to be bland or boring.

In anticipation of the Tortilla Awards, Aaron Sanchez has shared some recipes and tips on making a delicious tortilla and flavorful tacos for your next summer party. Also, three amazing mixologists from Chicago’s Causing a Stir, New York City’s The Dead Rabbit and Austin’s La Pescadora have created the perfect Tequila Cazadores cocktail to go with each recipe.

Homemade tortillas are much more flavorful than store bought versions. First, the key to a delicious corn tortilla is corn masa. The corn flour provides the right texture and flavor. Just a ping pong size of dough will create the right size tortilla. Also, a good tortilla press is helpful. In a pinch, you could figure out another kitchen hack, but the tortilla press is easiest.

Aaron Sanchez recommends the following recipes and pairings for your next summer gathering.

Aaron Sanchez recipe, Mini Chorizo Tostados, photo provided by Tortilla Awards

Mini Chorizo Tostadas paired with La Santa, featuring Tequila Cazadores, pineapple juice and coconut milk

Chorizo is a very flavorful ingredient. These tostadas are the perfect size to serve as a snack, appetizer or a lighter meal. Whether served on a tortilla chip or on cut tortillas, this recipe might have a lot of ingredients but it is bursting with flavor. The layers of flavors make the tostadas totally craveable. Also, the sweetness from the pineapple juice in the La Santa cocktail cuts through the bold flavor of the chorizo. Don’t try to limit yourself to just one or two tostadas.

"MINI CHORIZO TOSTADAS BY AARÓN SÁNCHEZ:Yield:24 mini tostadas (6 to 8 servings)Ingredients:Canola oil for frying6 corn tortillas or store-bought tortilla chipsTwo 15 -ounce cans pinto beans or 3 cups cooked pinto beans2 avocados1⁄4 cup lime juice1 teaspoon kosher saltOne 14-ounce package chorizo1⁄2 small white onion, minced2 cloves garlic, minced1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered3 scallions, thinly slicedShredded lettuce for servingCotija cheese for servingInstructions:1.Fill a frying pan or cast-iron skillet with about 1⁄4-inch canola oil and set it over medium heat. Line a plate or cooling rack with paper towels.2.Cut the tortillas into quarters. When the oil is shimmering, add the tortillas (do this in batches so there’s no overlap) and fry for 2 to 3 minutes, until they’re deeply golden and crisp. Transfer to the lined plate in a single layer to cool completely and repeat with the remaining tortillas. (If you’d prefer, you can skip this step and use store bought tortilla chips; just make sure they’re flat for layering.)3.Drain the beans, reserving 3⁄4 cup liquid, and set aside. In a separate bowl, mash the avocados with the lime juice and salt.4.Remove all but 1 tablespoon of the oil in the pan and return it to medium heat. Add the chorizo and fry, stirring occasionally, until it’s cooked through and crispy. Use a slotted spoon to remove the sausage so any rendered fat stays in the pan, then add the onions to the pan and sauté until translucent. Stir in the garlic and oregano and cook for 1 minute, or until fragrant.5.Add the beans along with 1⁄2 cup of the reserved bean liquid and stir to incorporate. Usea potato masher or fork to mash until they’re as smooth as you’d like; add more liquid ifnecessary.6.To assemble the tostadas, spread a spoonful of refried beans over each tortilla, followed by the guacamole and chorizo. Top with cherry tomatoes, scallions, lettuce, and cotija cheese. Serve right away."

Aaron Sanchez Elote Croquetas, photo provided by Tortilla Awards

Elote Croquetas paired with Baeweather, featuring Tequila Cazadores, pear liqueur and tangerine LaCroix

With corn often being a popular summer party food, the elote croquetas are an interesting spin to the classic grilled corn. The grilled corn is transformed into the croquetas. Plus, the flavorful dipping sauce, featuring crema, cotija and lime juice pairs quite well with the bright, refreshing Baeweather cocktail.

Aaron Sanchez Mini Portobello Tortas, photo provided by Tortilla Awards

Mini Portobello Tortas with Quick-Pickled Onions paired with The Breeze de Los Altos featuring Tequila Cazadores, cucumber, mint and coconut water

As more people look to vegetarian and plant based alternative foods, mini Portobello tortas are quite satisfying. The key to this recipe is the quick pickled onions. Anyone can make a quick pickle and the acidity in the pickle is perfect on a hot, summer day. Pairing this recipe with a cocktail featuring mint is a like a cool summer breeze.

Next: Summer's best grilling recipe

This summer push beyond the traditional summer party foods. Cook up some tacos and pour some tequila for your next summer bash. The summer’s best food and beverage pairing is definitely one that everyone should try before fall comes.