5@5 - Cinco de Mayo menu essentials
May 3rd, 2012
05:00 PM ET
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5@5 is a daily, food-related list from chefs, writers, political pundits, musicians, actors, and all manner of opinionated people from around the globe.

There's no time for a siesta; Saturday is the big fiesta!

Kick off your Cinco de Mayo in style with Chef Josh Gentry of the Little Donkey restaurant in Homewood, Alabama.

Five Dishes and Cocktails You Need to Have at Your Fiesta: Josh Gentry

Josh Gentry

1. Stock up
"First, having a six-pack of Tecate and key limes to go with it is vital to getting geared up for the party! This doesn’t need to be viewed as your beverage for the day, it’s really just hydration. The key limes are essential because they are so much more tart and refreshing than Persian limes. Make sure the beer stays on ice because when the craving for a hot tamale hits, an ice-cold beer with a shot of lime is the perfect refresher. Or, it may just end up being a chaser for some good tequila later.

While you’re getting your bar in order for the party, make sure the margaritas are also ready for high consumption. The main thing about the margarita is keeping your eye on three simple ingredients: great tequila, fresh lime juice and orange. I like to get the orange flavor from Agavero, an agave liqueur that has the fragrance of bottled orange blossoms.

Bottom line, margaritas are best in their classic preparation, so don’t mess with it because everyone at the party will slam at least two.

If you do want a tequila-based drink that is outside the norm of a classic margarita, try a paloma. Good tequila, fresh lime juice and some grapefruit soda is all you need - and the result is completely refrescante!"

2. Cool down
"Sometimes it’s easy to forget when you’re having an epic party, but there are other ways to chill out than ice-cold beer and tequila. Popsicles are totally on the sweet side of Mexican street food and are also super refreshing. They are also a super cool way to enjoy a mix and match of fun flavors.

Jalapeño and watermelon or habanero and raspberry are a couple of ways to bring sweet and spicy flavors together in a fun way. It’s also really easy to make popsicles at home for a party."

3. Lend me your ears
"When planning your menu, think street food. One of the quintessential foods you’ll find on the street in Mexico is elote: Corn on the cob that has been rubbed with mayonnaise, seasoned with a chili powder and covered in grated cotija cheese. It is one of the great treats of Mexico and a perfect snack during the cerveza- and tequila-charged festivities."

4. Be the top dog
"Hot Dogs! Going into the Mexican markets and getting a Cuban-style torta with sliced hot dogs on it is kind of a cool way to enjoy hot dogs. And here in America, hot dogs are obviously staples of our grilling feasts and holiday celebrations.

Sear a hot dog in a cast iron pan over the fire and reinvent an American classic with some smoked habanero sauce, a touch of mayo, ancho chili powder and chopped tomatoes piled up in a soft bun. It is a great coming together of two fine food cultures."

5. Good golly, hot tamale!
"Tamales, probably more than any other Mexican staple, signify a party or a special occasion. There are so many ways to enjoy tamales. Mexicans enjoy them with sweet and savory fillings alike. Here in the South, we really relate to them because the combination of cornbread (or masa) and slow-cooked meats speaks to folks from all walks of life.

Even when it’s not Cinco de Mayo, a platter full of tamales and a cooler full of beer becomes an immediate gathering place. It’s almost a mental trigger to slow down, relax and enjoy letting time pass. If that’s not what a party like Cinco de Mayo is all about, then I don’t know what is.

Or, there's always queso fundido. Please be careful as it may fulfill your caloric needs for a week, but it’s simple and completely worth the effort."

Queso Fundido


  • 8 oz poblano chiles, roasted
  • 8 oz white onion, roasted
  • 2 cloves garlic, roasted
  • 1 tsp Mexican oregano
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 lb smoked chorizo, chopped
  • 1 lb semi-hard cheese, like cotija, fontina or asiago
  • 1 lb soft cheese, like mozzarella or Oaxaca

Cooking Directions

  1. Roast the poblanos by placing directly on the grill until charred. Let the peppers steam in a bowl covered with plastic to help the skin release itself from the goodness. Peel them and remove the stems and seeds. Roast the onions by nestling them down in the coals on the same grill. This should take 20-30 minutes and the outside will be black or charred, but the inside will be very moist. Dry roast the garlic on the grill until it is scorched and a deep rich brown color on the side against the fire. The center should still be its natural color, though.
  2. When both vegetables are roasted and cool enough to touch, peel them into pieces about the size of a silver dollar. Place the pieces of onion and poblano in a bowl and toss with the oregano, garlic and salt. In a ceramic, glass or ceramic baking dish, place the chorizo evenly across the bottom of the dish. Then, cover the sausage with the poblano/onion mixture and spread the cheese on top. Place the dish in an oven on broil for approximately 6 minutes or until the top has spots of dark brown.
  3. This a simple dish and details can be altered to suit you and your guests needs. You can chop the vegetables finer if you like or do in strips. You can mix the cheeses or layer them. Either way you MUST serve these with fresh homemade tortillas! Nothing else highlights a fresh warm tortilla like fundido melting all down your arm!

Is there someone you'd like to see in the hot seat? Let us know in the comments below and if we agree, we'll do our best to chase 'em down.

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Filed under: 5@5 • Cinco de Mayo • Holidays • Think

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  4. Livesin San Antonio

    We ust finished 10 days of Fiesta here last Sumday. Spent Cinco De Mayo at El Mercado with a friend. Lots of free music, roasted corn (which we did have), and plenty of tourists spending their money. I;m a trsnsplantr\ed Yankee and go to these things every couple of years. But better fiestas than drive-bys.

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  12. DennyB

    I agree! A NOTHING HOLIDAY! Just So Illegals can feel better about their Illegal visitation / invasion of the USA. Go home and take your BS anchor babies with. Make Mexihole better IF you Dare.

    "Cinco De Mayo celebrates the "Battle of the Pueblo" in which RETREATING MEXICANS defeated a SMALL CONTINGENT of French soldiers at the Pueblo Garrison.....It is A NOTHING HOLIDAY!"

    May 5, 2012 at 9:31 am |
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  14. El Guapo

    I'ma get drunk and hurl tecate all over the guacamole!

    May 4, 2012 at 11:32 pm |

    Residents of the Mexican border city of Nuevo Laredo found nine bodies hanging from an overpass Friday morning, along with a message directed to a drug cartel.

    May 4, 2012 at 10:25 pm |
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  18. UhYeaOk

    Why should we be celebrating Cinco De Mayo? We arn't Mexicans and played no part in their fight. Should we start celebrating Waterloo next?

    May 4, 2012 at 8:30 pm |

    A sombrero and a green card.

    May 4, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
    • Eric Holder

      Wait a minute Jose...are you Red Cross certified to swim across the Rio Grande with a 100 pound knapsack on your back? Do you have a CD of RoseAnne Barr singing the National Anthem? Can you make Tamales? These are requirements to illegally enter The United States of America.

      May 4, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
  20. Harry

    Hey Jeff and Rel I hope you burn in hell! I am going to have afun time drinking my margarita to that!

    May 4, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
  21. Kim

    Everybody shut up and do something fun.

    May 4, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
    • Smart Human

      Are you fun Kim? I bet you are...

      May 4, 2012 at 11:27 pm |
    • Sister Mary Katherine

      Negativity getting to you li'l kim? Children stand in the middle of the room and scream at everyone to shut up. Grown-ups walk away ...

      May 7, 2012 at 7:18 am |
  22. SheilaKA

    Any excuse to get together with friends! We have our Margarita fixings and are ready to go. ...and our group of six "best buddies" is all Anglos.

    May 4, 2012 at 12:38 pm |
  23. zaglossus

    A "holiday" manufactured by beer and chip makers and chain Mexican restaurants to drum up business. Nobody over 40 celebrates this in the USA.

    May 4, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
    • DEET664

      That is sooo not true!!

      May 4, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
    • Joe

      And your point is? Who cares? It's an excuse to party and drink tequila!!!

      May 4, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
    • mollykmanning

      We ALWAYS celebrate Cino de Mayo and we are all 40-something New Yorkers.

      May 4, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
    • Smart Human

      "Nobody over 40, who has grown up, celebrates this in the USA."

      May 4, 2012 at 11:31 pm |
  24. Celebrate

    C'mon, lighten up folks! I'm not Irish and I had a blast on St. Paddy's Day. I'm not Mexican, and I will have a blast on Cinco de Mayo.

    May 4, 2012 at 11:46 am |
    • Alex

      Thank you – the first intelligent response to this article. Nice to just have fun and commemorate the pride and unity of a country.

      May 4, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
    • GLJ

      Absolutely. I am not Mexican but I still celebrate Cinco DeMayo. I love Mexican food

      May 4, 2012 at 8:04 pm |
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  26. Jdizzle McHammerpants ♫♫

    Wow. I take it Lee Xiong broke your heart in high school?

    May 4, 2012 at 10:23 am |

    It is celebrated only in this country; it is a one more excuse for Americans to get drunk , eat like pigs and get fatter.

    May 4, 2012 at 10:15 am |
    • Joe

      Sounds good to me.

      May 4, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
  28. montyross

    stop with the mexican culture in America already

    May 3, 2012 at 10:55 pm |
    • Joe

      You do realize America is a country of immigrants. All of our people's traditions have formed the fabric of America. Either way, who gives a crap? It's an excuse to party! I have the phone numbers of some good surgeons if you need help getting the stick removed from your a s s

      May 4, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
  29. Jam Mer

    Great tips from the party master and man of adventure, Don_Key. Cannot wait to throw down at the Little Donkey. Como se dice FIESTA.

    May 3, 2012 at 9:09 pm |
  30. DAVE


    May 3, 2012 at 8:09 pm |
    • Adela

      Good stay home. Bigots like you would ruin the fiesta for the rest of us. We will have fun without you. More fun without you actually.

      May 3, 2012 at 8:12 pm |
  31. Stephanie

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    Come check us out at http://couplesupper.com for delicious meals year round. Happy eating!

    May 3, 2012 at 7:45 pm |
  32. Jeff

    Cinco De Mayo celebrates the "Battle of the Pueblo" in which RETREATING MEXICANS defeated a SMALL CONTINGENT of French soldiers at the Pueblo Garrison.....It is A NOTHING HOLIDAY!

    May 3, 2012 at 7:43 pm |
    • Adela

      If you feel that way fine. Be narrow-minded and bigotted. The rest of us (and there are plenty of us) will fiesta and have fun. You can stay home and continue being a bitter bigot.

      May 3, 2012 at 8:09 pm |
      • VladT

        @Adela..... I plan on having fun, but him stating somewhat historically accurate facts does not make him a bigot

        May 4, 2012 at 7:37 am |
    • Joe

      WHO. CARES. Drink some margaritas and quit trying to spoil the party! Viva Cinco de Drinko!

      May 4, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
      • Sister Mary Katherine

        Cinco de drinko – good job!

        May 7, 2012 at 7:21 am |
    • Alex

      No you idiot, learn your history! May 5, 1862 was a heroic event by all standards. The 8,000-strong French army attacked the much more poorly equipped Mexican army of 4,000. Yet, on May 5, 1862, the Mexicans managed to decisively crush the French army, one which, according to an article in Philadelphia's The Bulletin daily newspaper, was the best army of the time. This battle was significant in that the 4,000 Mexican soldiers were greatly outnumbered by the well-equipped French army of 8,000 that had not been defeated for almost 50 years. Second, it was significant because since the Battle of Puebla, no country in the Americas has been invaded by any other European military force.

      May 4, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
      • RichardHead

        Wait a minute....What about the Women's Polish VolleyBall Team? I checked it on The Googles.

        May 4, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
      • Jenn

        You sound like you'd be the life of any party. Relax and do a shot of tequilla!

        May 5, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
  33. Adela

    @Rel-- do you feel the same way about St. Patrick's Day? Ship all the Irish back? No? Then you are a racist and bigot. Shame on you.

    May 3, 2012 at 7:41 pm |
    • Jeff

      St. Patrick's day actually has RELEVANT CULTURAL SIGNIFICANCE IN THE US.

      May 3, 2012 at 7:44 pm |
      • sportreform

        does not.

        May 3, 2012 at 7:50 pm |
      • Joe

        OK, what is it? Don't just say it has cultural significance...tell us what it is.

        May 4, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
    • montyross

      times change, used to be against the law to be gay, now time to stop immigration

      May 3, 2012 at 10:57 pm |
  34. Justin Time

    You guys, all of you except for jagged make me laugh! How can you be so introverted, self centered, and just plain hateful? Embrace cultural diversity. And I hope all your children marry interacially.
    Most likely they will, or already have.

    May 3, 2012 at 7:35 pm |
    • Jeff

      Sorry Justin, over 90% of WHITE PEOPLE MARRY OTHER WHITE PEOPLE!

      May 3, 2012 at 7:42 pm |
      • sportreform

        at one time it was 100%...making inroads one marriage at a time...eventually all humans will be brown.

        May 3, 2012 at 7:45 pm |
        • Jeff

          So you Welcome a time when all humans are dumb as rocks and dependent on the Government for sustenance?

          May 3, 2012 at 7:54 pm |
        • sportreform

          How do you make that leap, Jeff? I weep for those who love you.

          May 3, 2012 at 8:02 pm |
        • Kim

          ' a time when all humans are dumb as rocks'... sounds like you are trying to convince us that's already happened

          May 4, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
      • Sister Mary Katherine

        jeff, did you know over 79.85% of statistics are made up on the spot?

        May 7, 2012 at 7:24 am |
  35. glen124

    Since Cinco de Mayo is a celebration that, in Mexico anyway, is relevant only in the state of Puebla, why not offer up some comida Poblano? Doesn't get any more "de Puebla" than Mole Poblano, or Tacos Arabes.....

    May 3, 2012 at 7:31 pm |
  36. Rel

    Seriously, f-ck Cinco de Mayo.

    Just close the borders and ship/truck/drag 'em home.

    May 3, 2012 at 7:13 pm |
    • sportreform

      do it yourself, you racist coward.

      May 3, 2012 at 7:39 pm |
    • Joe

      "Give me your tired, your poor,
      Your huddled masses, yearning to breath free,
      The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
      Send these, the homeless, tempest tossed,
      I lift my lamp beside the golden door." – The Statue of Liberty

      Hey, either you're pro-America or you're not. Sounds like you're not.

      May 4, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
  37. Jagged

    Whooo Hoooo, Cinco de who gives a damn! No, but seriously folks, deep south Texas, wow, the party is on this weekend. That's all I'm sayin'.

    May 3, 2012 at 6:59 pm |
  38. Giver

    It would be better to spend you time feeding the hungry than having a party for mexican-food-loving friends who simply want to drink margaritas and bang your girlfriend, wife, or boyfriend. I have gone out on a limb here, and I am glad.

    May 3, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
    • lapsrus

      Why does it have to be one or the other? Why not do all of the above?

      May 3, 2012 at 8:05 pm |
    • Joe

      It would be better to spend your time feeding the hungry than posting inane online comments on a page about party recipes. You've gone out on a limb...it just snapped.

      May 4, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
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