RETIRED AND RESTED!! Here's my first topic of the new era:
I tend to be a purist about some things. Until recently, guacamole was one of those things. No chili, jalapenos, chipotle, etc.. Guacamole is a fire-stopper -- not a fire-starter -- for your mouth when included in spicy Central American food. If there were more than 5 ingredients, including the avocados, it was not for me. Recently that's changed -- but only a smidgen. Sorry about no picture, but we ate it all so fast I didn't get one!
My 'traditional' recipe was taught to my mother in the 1930's in Las Cruces, a New Mexico town along the Rio Grande near Mexico -- long before simple Mexican food became haute cuisine. Here it is: Decide how many avocados you plan to use. I usually estimate 1 per 2 people, plus "one for the pot." Selecting the fruit is key here. DO NOT use rotten avocados. Some people think that 'soft' means past the point of use for anything else. Absolutely not! This 'beyond use' selection technique actually requires hot chilis to distract you from the taste of rotten avocado! The fruit should not be more than 1 day past optimum for use in a green salad. Flesh should be bright green, not olive or brown. Cut out any brown flesh. If you are ripening hard fruit ahead of time, leave them in a paper bag on the counter and check TWICE a day. Once a fruit has a tiny give of softness, put it in the fridge. Use within a couple of days.
To prepare, before touching those perfectly-ripened avocados, start the other ingredients working. For each medium to large avocado to be used, in a glass or other non-metal bowl add about 1 tablespoon of finely chopped onion, a pinch of real dehydrated garlic powder (Penzey's recommended), large pinches of salt and freshly-ground black pepper and between 2 teaspoons and 1 Tablespoon of fresh lime juice. Don't use garlic salt. Don't use cayenne or any other hot pepper in lieu of the black pepper. Fresh lemon juice is OK. In a pinch the frozen or reconstituted, but ONLY if it really tastes like lemons or limes -- not the 'name brand' that tastes like neither.
Mix these ingredients and then start to work on your avocados. WASH them to prevent introducing something nasty from the skins into your dish. remove the little hard stem. Cut in half the long way and then do it again so you have long quarters. Peel and then slice about 3/8 inch thick chunks perpendicular to the length to get thick little chunks. As you add more avocado slices, turn the mixture over to let the lime juice slow the browning of the fruit.
When all fruit is cut and in the bowl, take a fork and lightly mash. Do not use power tools. There should still be chunks of avocado visible. Taste with whatever chip you are using, or just taste if it is to be an accompaniment to salad or (my favorite) a plain cheese quesadilla. Adjust the salt and acid to a nice balance that accentuates the avocado flavor.
If you are not serving immediately, smooth the top of the mixture with the back of a spoon and squeeze a smidge more lime juice over the top. Lay a sheet of Saran wrap directly on the mixture so that the lime juice holds the wrap down. Tuck into the edges of the bowl. This air-tight cover will keep the guac GREEN all over for several hours in the fridge.
Some people like to add chopped red tomato for color, but I have a different preference. I plan ahead and have a grill-roasted ear of sweet yellow corn in the fridge, left over from the previous night's grilled dinner. For up to 12 ounces of avocado, add about half and ear of this wonderful corn cut from the cob and mixed in. If you are making a big batch of guac, add the corn from the whole ear. We eat this with toasted tortilla chips, cheese quesadillas, grilled meat, fish or just by itself. It's really good.
Another fabulous variation on Guacamole is from El Cid, a long-vanished restaurant in northern Sonora, Mexico. It is a guacamole rustica. Everything is very coarsely chopped -- sweet white onion, seeded red tomato flesh and the avocado. Chunks should be no larger than a quarter and no smaller than a nickel. There should be a little more avocado than tomato or onion. Don't mash the avocado at all. Pile this festive goodness in the center of a large platter, squeeze lime juice over the pile and then lightly salt and pepper. Surround with toasted tortilla chips and wedges of lime. Serve immediately.
Mardi Gras madness
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