Holy Guacamole

| 14 Comments

For me to endorse a Mexican restaurant, it has to supply the following:

--Decent homemade chips and salsa, provided free as appetizers
--Savory red enchilada sauce, complex enough that you can taste something besides chili powder
--Spicy red chili made of cubed or shredded (not ground) beef and thoroughly free of filler like beans
--Real cheese, not any kind of processed cheese food or cheese sauce
--Tacos of shredded roast beef that aren't too greasy
--Yummy guacamole

Lots of people think guacamole is really easy to make--and it is. But it's also really easy to screw up, and the main way people screw it up is by adding stuff that shouldn't be in guacamole in the first place.

The primary offending ingredient is sour cream, which people usually add because they are either ill-informed or cheap. Sour cream goes WITH guacamole, not IN it. The proper way to eat a chimichanga, for instance, is WITH guacamole AND sour cream, not WITH guacamole CONTAINING sour cream.

I make pretty damn good guacamole, and as it has been a while since I've posted a recipe, I thought I'd share it my guacamole recipe here.

Mistake-Free Guacamole

--two or more avocados
--at least one clove of garlic for every avocado you use, minced
--coarse ground pepper
--salt
--a healthy squirt of fresh lime juice (lemon juice is not an appropriate substitution--it won't be tangy enough)
--chopped fresh oregano, if you've got it, and maybe a minced scallion as well
--a fourth to a third cup of chunky salsa for every avocado you use (Make sure you have good salsa. Check the ingredients: it shouldn't have sugar in it, because that's just wrong.)

Mash the avocados by hand and add everything else listed above, stirring well with a big fork or a whisk. Don't add any kind of powdered spice mix. Don't add chopped fresh tomatoes, because tomatoes are disgusting unless they've been cooked, plus the texture is too different from that of the smashed avocado. Don't add chunks of raw onion, because the flavor detracts from the garlic, and again you make the texture weird. Don't add cilantro unless you can't find oregano--even minced fresh rosemary is better than cilantro in guacamole. Mostly the rule is, keep it simple. Guacamole should taste, first and foremost, like avocado. And don't put it through a blender, either. (My mom does that and it drives me nuts.) Even though I object to chunks of crunchy stuff in guacamole, it shouldn't have the consistency of a milkshake.

That's all! And in case you didn't know, guacamole won't turn so thoroughly brown so fast if you store it with the avocado pits in--just put them, whole, back in the bowl after you've mixed everything up.

14 Comments

Sounds yummy! I agree with you on almost every point: no sour cream and PLEASE no mayonnaise! Lime juice is much more appropriate. Most oregano that people find in the US is a Greek variety; if you search a lot you can find Mexican oregano, which does have a slightly different flavor. But I disagree about cilantro. It's an amazing herb and is entirely wonderful in savory Mexican dishes, including guacamole.

My guacamole is a bit simpler than yours only in that I tend to use homemade salsa -- though it will have the oregano, cilantro, garlic, onion, etc. I got my salsa recipe straight out of Zarela Martinez's cookbook. Fresh tomatoes play a prominent role as well but you run it through a food processor so you can control how chunky it ends up. I also add toasted cumin (sorry about that). I have substituted mangos for the tomatoes in homemade salsa and it is delicious but really wrong for guacamole: too sweet.

Yummy. I'll have to try this!

And then there's the guac recipe my friends from Nicaragua share. It involves avocados, boiled eggs, lime juice, and salt and pepper. It's actually quite good. And how well timed your entry is today. We're making tacos this evening and homemade guac!

More and more I insist on shredded beef as the marker of a good Mexican restaurant. That, and the enchilada sauce. Why is it that I can't find a Mexican restaurant in Chicago, which has a good size Mexican population, that doesn't pour tomato sauce over food and call it enchilada sauce? One thing I've encountered here which I really like, though, is putting tiny pieces of ham in salsa. At first it was disconcerting, but then I relaxed and just enjoyed the salty goodness.

If you're in PA, you must not have many opportunities to bestow your seal of approval. I lived in Chester County for a few years and there was nada.

Hi everyone--

First of all, Spike, I've NEVER heard of mayonnaise in guacamole.... that's too vile to contemplate. And while I might be persuaded to accept cilantro, the raw tomatoes are a no-go in my book no matter what. It's not just the chunkiness but the almost-crispness of raw tomatoes that bothers me in terms of texture, and then there's the horrible acidity and icky flavor. No, tomatoes just gross me out unless they've been cooked.

Janet--boiled eggs in guacamole? Well, it might be good, but it's not what I'd call guacamole--I'd call it avocado and eggs, which still might be really good. I readily admit there are other great ways to eat avocado: a Japanese friend once served me avocado sliced very thin, then sprinkled with cracked pepper and doused liberally with soy sauce. YUM! It's actually my second favorite way to eat avocado.

Margo--you are right about good shredded beef--it's another one of those simple recipes that is easy to get wrong--and about Midwestern Mexican food. Iowa also has a very large Mexican population (most of them work in the meat packing industry) and more than its fair share of really horrible restaurants. The worst served me an enchilada with absolutely no sauce at all--it was terrible. But there was one fabulous restaurant in some tiny town over an hour away--it had about the best chicken mole I've ever eaten, and I was always trying to convince someone to make the trip with me--that's ONE thing I felt silly doing on my own.

I won't eat the Mexican food here in PA. There's one restaurant that serves bland versions of Mexico City Mexican food--not my favorite region, and I don't like bland. I just wait until I go home, then have Mexican food as often as possible.

I can't tell you how many years I had to endure guacamole with mayonaise in it. My mother is crazy that way. It wasn't until my sister married a man who completely freaked out about it, that my mom tried to make actual authentic guacamole.

Actually, she lets other people do it now, since she "doesn't know how." We made some when I was home. My sisters and I carefully did almost the exact recipe you provided here, with the exception of a very small amount of diced tomatoes. They added a dash of color and didn't really alter the taste. It was really good.

I think it's so charming how particular you are about food.

My guac is simple: mash avocado with lime juice, and a bare waft of cayenne pepper.

Let's see if I can get a link for you to a blog that recently had an avocado shake recipe on it. They're popular in Asia.

It's a fabulous site, by the way, if you enjoy food and travel.

Hey Juti--

Thanks for the link to the truly fabulous site. I can't wait to try the avocado milkshake!

My big avocado tree has been giving me lots of fruit since November, but I'm down to the last one now. We live on the jungle side of the Big Island of Hawaii, and the tree, though only six years old, is taller than the house and spreading. We just had to prune it & lost some new crop, but we still have plenty coming along. Often I have my own limes, too.
In line with what you say, Holly, I'm thinking I may reform my habit of using tomato or salsa in my guacamole, or perhaps use it sparingly. The avos I have are mild in flavor and easily overwhelmed. I do like the chunkiness, however, that a little onion provides. And cilantro is great, I think; just don't overdo it. Moderation is the key.
I wish I could figure out a way to freeze guacamole that satisfied me. Any suggestions? I've tried adding lettuce for a little crunch, but that doesn't help much.
Really, it's funny how particular people are about Mexican food, whereas a great range of things Italian is accepted. This fussiness apparently is also true of Mexicans. For instance, I have Mexican friends who will not set foot in my favorite Mexican restaurant, which is owned and run by a Mexican family. Their favorite restaurant is, in my opinion, pedestrian.
When it comes to meat, my favorite is what I make myself. Slow cooked pork, beef, or chicken. And I like to serve it with thick tortillas. Yum.
I do think I need to work on my salsas, though.
And I can't imagine tomato sauce as a substitute for chili sauce. Ugh.

I don't think guacamole freezes, Hattie. And I don't like the idea of lettuce IN guacamole, though I can deal with the idea of guacamole ON lettuce.

Well, luckily we can get them all year around here. Our neighbor has one that bears in the season when ours doesn't.
Still it would be nice to be able to store avocados in some way.

I agree with you that it would be nice to be able to store avocados for longer, but I'm still awfully envious that you can simply pick them off a tree.

I envy you your sewing skills. I can't sew at all. My mother hated sewing so much that she completely turned me off it.

You can freeze whole avocados. That's what distributors do, which is one way they guarantee a year-round supply and also keep their prices up. It's also what makes store-bought avos stringy and watery, I've been told.

Me ancient mother has an avocado ranch—yes, that's what we call it—that grows the butteriest organic avos I've ever had. Favorite recipe: cut open avo. Eat. Guac is more complicated: Put avo, salt, pepper, a squeeze of lime, and several splashes of jalepeno sauce in the bowl. Chop it up a little with a fork. Done.

I'd rather eat beans in chile than tomatoes in guac, me. Unless a tomato is still warm from the sun or has been cooked, I don't want anything to do with it.

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This page contains a single entry by Holly published on June 29, 2006 12:36 PM.

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