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Great guacamole. April 28, 2014

Posted by ourfriendben in recipes.
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Silence Dogood here. Not being a fan of slimy textures (and that goes for you, too, eggs and peas), I hadn’t realized that guacamole (or anything avocado) could be good until a couple of years ago. I’d been reading more and more about the good fats in avocados, and kept thinking I should find a way to include them in our friend Ben’s and my diets, weekly if not daily.

So when we went to a favorite local Mexican restaurant and I saw a server prepare fresh guac tableside for some other diners, I decided to go for it. (Though I skipped the tableside prep since our server assured me that it was made the exact same way in the kitchen for $3 less. Always pays to ask!)

The guacamole turned out to be a revelation. It was chunky and creamy, not slimy. It was room temperature, perfect with hot tortilla chips. And it got a big flavor boost from chopped onion, tomato and lime juice. Yum! It was good enough to eat as a meal in itself. The restaurant offered containers of fresh-made guac to go, but they were pricey. Could I create a homemade version that would compare?

In a word, yes. With a step-saver thrown in the mix. I think it, and serving the guac right away at room temperature, are key. But since I want to get the most nutrient power possible out of those avocados, and almost all of an avocado’s nutrients are located just under the peel (not counting the fats, of course), the way you peel an avocado makes a big difference, too.

For guacamole, you want to buy blackish, wrinkly Haas (now usually called Hass) avocados, not those big, smooth, green “alligator pears” from Florida. To peel them and keep all their nutrients, rather than cut them open and scoop the flesh out with a spoon (leaving the nutrient-rich green layer behind), do this: Cut the avocado in half lengthwise, then twist the halves apart and pop out the seed. Next, cut the halves in half. Take a quarter, insert a finger under the peel at the top, and peel it off like a banana skin. Voila! The dark green, nutrient-rich layer stays on the flesh, not the peel. Repeat with the other quarters.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Because avocados are quick to discolor, turning a super-unappetizing brown at every opportunity, you’ll want to deal with them last. So let’s go back to the beginning. Of course, you’ll want to adjust quantities to suit your crowd. This is what I made for me and a typically hungry OFB, and we ate it as an appetizer with chips one night and in burritos another:

First, chop 1/2 a large sweet onion (such as a Vidalia or WallaWalla); reserve the other half for another dish. Chop a half bunch of fresh cilantro (or to taste) and add it to the mix. Douse with a good splash of lime or lemon juice (we like Key lime or Key lemon juice for this).

Next, add the “secret ingredient,” 1/2 container of fresh hot raw salsa. These are available in the fresh produce section of our local supermarkets, and contain finely diced onion, tomato, green bell pepper, and jalapeno peppers. The key here is to make sure you’re getting HOT salsa, and to make sure you can see the diced ingredients clearly. You definitely don’t want to get a pureed or cooked salsa, and you don’t want to end up with something like pineapple or black bean and corn salsa. Keep your eyes open and read your labels!

And don’t forget to drain that salsa well before you use it, so your guac is rich, not runny. (If you happen to like bloody Marys, or tomato or V8 juice, the liquid from the salsa will give them a nice kick.)

The beauty of this is that you can add a second layer of oniony goodness, the tomatoes, bell peppers, and jalapenos without having to chop them and in a much finer dice than you could ever manage. I’ve noticed lately that my local Giant also offers micro-diced onions and tricolored bell peppers (green, red, and yellow) in plastic-wrapped packages in the produce aisle, which you could add along with or instead of the salsa. But if instead of, you’d still need to dice a couple of paste tomatoes and at least half a seeded jalapeno!

Now, it’s time to add a splash of Tabasco Chipotle Sauce, just to kick the guac up a notch. And finally, cut and peel your avocados, toss the quarters in a bowl, and use a fork to mash them ’til chunky, then fold them into the guac, give it a good stir, and serve immediately. Cinco de Mayo will never taste so good!

Incidentally, if you inadvertently made too much and it sat out long enough for the avocado to turn brown (this shouldn’t happen if you’ve added enough lime or lemon juice, but still), don’t panic. The guac is still good even if it looks gross. Tuck it into a burrito or quesadilla or soft taco where people will enjoy the flavor without seeing the color.

‘Til next time,

Silence

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