Make it in a molcajete
By Gwyneth Doland
Have you ever peered behind the counter at a fast food restaurant and seen some zitty 16-year-old squirting guacamole out of what appears to be a caulking gun? You're standing there, waiting for your burrito, thinking "hmm, the last time I used a caulking gun was to water-seal the gap between my new toilet and the floor. Man, that was a dirty job. Hey, those refried beans look just like ... whoa! Cancel that! I'm getting a salad." Get the picture? Faux-ca-mole is a bad, bad idea. Nothing good or even edible should come from a caulking gun.
The tragic thing is that guacamole is so easy to make—and it's so easy to make well. You don't need any hardware store equipment, only a fork and a bowl, or better yet, a molcajete y tejolete. This rustic Mexican version of a mortar and pestle is the perfect set of tools to use for making—and serving—guacamole. You can find them at Mexican grocery stores, some cookware stores and, of course, at the flea market.
Don't forget that guacamole is only as good as the avocados you choose. Because you never know what to expect at the store, it would be unwise to plan too little or too much in advance. Wait until you find nice avocados and wait until they're perfectly ripe; you'll become known for your fabulous guac.
Avocados are usually available all year 'round, because they come from different regions and because a handful of species produce fruit in varying seasons. Avocados are unusual in that they don't have to be picked at a certain time; they can remain on the trees for a good long while, because they don't start to ripen until after they're picked. Choose fruits that are heavy for their size and yield to thumb pressure; you're looking for the firmness of an almost-ripe peach. Very hard avocados will ripen within a day or two if you put them in a paper bag with an apple and leave them on the counter.
When your avocados are perfectly ripe, and only then, should you make the guacamole. Using your big knife, slice around the middle of the avocado lengthwise. Pry the two halves apart. Holding in one hand the avocado half attached to the pit, give the pit a good whack with the blade of your knife; it will stick to the blade. Give the knife a twist and the pit will pull away from the meat.
If you don't have a molcajete, you can still make this recipe. Mince the garlic and chiles, mash the first avocado well with a fork and then add the other ingredients.
Makes about 4 cups
1 to 3 cloves garlic
1 to 3 jalapeños, seeded and chopped
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 large, ripe avocados
1 medium white onion, finely chopped
3 medium tomatoes, seeded and diced
Juice of 3 limes, to taste
1/3 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1) In the molcajete, grind the garlic, chiles and salt into a paste. Add one of the peeled and pitted avocados and grind it until smooth.
2) Roughly chop the other two avocado halves into 1-inch pieces. Add them to the molcajete but don't grind.
3) Add onion, tomato, lime juice and cilantro. Using a spoon, stir the mixture together until combined. It should be chunky, not smooth.
4) Add more salt and lime juice if needed. Press plastic wrap onto the surface of the guacamole to keep it from turning brown. Let it sit for an hour or so and the flavors will meld together. Serve with fresh chips and plenty of cold beer.
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