Making margaritas? Skip the ice and use frozen watermelon cubes

12:00 a.m. Tuesday, July 19, 2016 Austin360 Eats

A few weeks ago, when I wrote about my not-so-great blender, several readers chimed in with their recommendations of blenders and how to make margaritas.

Another reader, who happens to be my mom, saw that I was in the market for a Ninja, which a number of people had told me was the best choice for a blender that is top-notch but not a pricey Vitamix. When I arrived in Missouri two weeks ago, she’d bought me the exact model I’d wished for. (Yes, she wins Mom of the Year. Every year.)

We got to work making margaritas on the back porch. My dad, who has had several stints as a bartender, makes really good margaritas, but he always uses a mix, which I wanted to avoid. It took me several tries to get the consistency and sweetness right — I crushed too much ice and used too much lime juice and not enough agave syrup — but I really liked using two products I brought with me from Texas: the new Paula’s Texas Grapefruit (instead of triple sec) and Twang’s Twang-A-Rita Hatch Chile salt, which didn’t add any heat but did add a nice savory element to the salted rim of the glass.

Statesman reader Eileen Liedeker sent in a great margarita recipe a few weeks ago that involves using frozen cubes of watermelon instead of the ice. She’d sent it as a possible solution if you have a blender that doesn’t really crush ice, but it also helps use up any extra watermelon (or cantaloupe) you might have after a picnic or party.

“The watermelon blends into a wonderful slushy consistency very easily,” she wrote. “Do this anytime you have a little more watermelon than you need, and keep the frozen cubes in a freezer bag for whenever you’re ready for a margarita.”

The original recipe came from Epicurious, but she adds Cointreau and cuts back on the sugar, depending on how sweet the watermelon is.

5 cups frozen watermelon cubes

1 cup tequila

1/2 cup fresh lime juice

1/4 cup sugar (or to taste)

1/4 cup Cointreau

— Adapted from an Epicurious.com recipe by Eileen Liedeker

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