Monday, March 9, 2015

The Guacamole Method

Great guacamole comes from great ingredients, to be sure, but there's also a method to the madness!  Follow these instructions and they'll take you down a path to guacamole heaven, I promise!

You Will Need:
  • 8 Avocados, soft to the touch
  • Juice of 1/2 Mexican Lime (the "big" ones)
  • 4 Large Roma Tomatoes (Yes, Roma.  No subs)
  • 1 Medium Red onion (finely diced)
  • 1 "Bunch" Cilantro (Remove the bottom "inch" of stems, finely dice the rest)
  • 6 Peeled Garlic Cloves, beaten to a paste
  • 2 Jalapeno Chilis
  • 2 Tbsp Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning
  • Salt & Pepper
When most people make guacamole, they're tempted to chuck all of the ingredients into a bowl and then beat the holy smokes out of it until it's a smooth green paste.  Do NOT do this, no matter how sorely you're tempted.  There's a method to the madness here, and for good reason.

Before you start, get a couple of bowls ready, along with a big cutting board.  Sharpen your knives.  You want your prep-station to flow with you.  Use one bowl for trash (onion skin, avocado pits, etc) and one for your guacamole.  Assemble all of the product prior to getting started.  The goal is to plant your feet firmly and to work through it, concentrating on textures and methods, and not running around the kitchen looking for stuff.

Begin with the garlic. I like to use a Molcajete (Mole-cah-HET'-tay) to smash the ever-loving bejeezus out of my garlic cloves.  Pummel them into pulp so you can squeeze ALL of the flavor out of these little buds.  Pound, beat, or smash them until you need a spoon to scoop them up and put them in your bowl.

Now, for the avocados!  You want an avocado that feels heavy for its size.  The skin is tight to the pulp in the middle, and nothing feels "loose."  If you squeeze it with your finger-tips, you should easily be able to leave an dimple in it.  If the avocados are too hard or too mushy, forget the whole idea and find another market to buy the good stuff, or leave the hard ones in a paper bag for a few days until they properly ripen.  Pop the little bud-stem out of the end (nobody wants to eat those) and then slice it open and remove the seed.  Scoop the green goodness out and into the bowl, on top of the garlic.

Now, time to mash and stir.  Use a potato masher and press through all of the stuff, squeezing it through the steel of your masher.  Once you've smashed each orb at least once, get a big paddle or spoon and vigorously stir it a few times, until it's uniform in color but still a little "chunky."  Add the lime juice and stir it in well.

You don't want a smooth paste here, we're not looking for a sandwich spread, we're looking for a "salad," right?  Check the picture on the right.  Pea-sized chucks of avocado are still around, and this is a good thing!

Now, chop the entire "bundle" of cilantro into a fine dice and add it to the top.  Stir, stir, stir some more.  Keep the chunks alive, but integrate the cilantro deep into the salad.  Do NOT taste this yet!  You won't learn anything and we have a long way to go!

Once you've stirred in the Cilantro, dice and add the Jalapenos.  Add one now, and save the other for fine-tuning, later.  Go ahead and add the Creole Seasoning.  I know, Guacamole isn't "Creole," it's from Mexico.  Still, Tony Chachere's has EXACTLY what Guacamole needs to become a world mega-star, so do it.  Stir it in and give it a little taste.  It should be "almost a bit too salty, but not quite so."  We still have onions and tomatoes to add, so.. don't spend too much time fine-tuning anything.  We'll have time for that, later.

Dice the onion into the smallest bits you can, and add them to the salad in the bowl.  NOW, do NOT "stir" this like crazy.  It's time to FOLD the salad over and on top of itself.  You don't want to tear and bruise the onions, they give the salad a nice little "crunch" so you want to keep their integrity!  Gently fold the salad over and over until the onions almost "disappear" into the mix.

Dice and add the tomatoes.  Again, you don't want to crush them, they look better, and they add so much to the "bite" of the salad if they're left as little cubes.  You're using Roma tomatoes here, which are very firm and should hold together well.  Gently fold the tomatoes into the salad.  Sing gentle lullabies to the guac during this phase, it will help calm everyone down... think gentle thoughts...

Ok, NOW we're ready to taste and fine tune this beautiful salad into the Hall of Fame rock-star it was born to be!  Taste it.  You might want some more heat.  If so, dice the other Jalapeno and toss it in.  You might want some more salt and/or pepper.  If so, go ahead and pinch some in, but be careful!  Remember, you'll probably eat this with chips, and chips are salty, so don't over-do it!

This makes a BIG bowl of guacamole!  You can see my latest batch here, with a run of homemade salsa (we had "Taco Night" with all of the neighbors).

If you have guacamole leftover, be sure to store it with a layer of plastic-wrap pressed down over the top of the surface, to keep it fresh and "Green!"  Be sure to press as much of the air out as possible!  Snap on a lid and drop it into the fridge.  It should say fresh, green, and delicious for 3-5 days.

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