When it comes to guacamole, I am somewhat of a purist. It has to have lime (not lemon), red onion (not yellow), and cilantro (parsley does not belong here). Have I made it without this or that? Yes, but it’s not the same. Up until a few years ago, I did not even like guacamole. Every time I had it, it was a bland, pasty glob- no flavor, no color, and no salt! Then one day I tasted the best guacamole in the world (until I started making my own of course) at an authentic Mexican restaurant in New York City. This stuff had flavor for days and you can tell someone was in the back making it from scratch. It was far from the processed crap served so ubiquitously at most chain restaurants- where they charge extra for their green paste and call it “guac” (which drives me insane…okay not really but I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to guacamole). Why would you cheapen it by calling it “guac”? Such a classic dish is worthy of its full name not some bastardized nickname. (I might be taking this way too seriously.)
After tasting this guacamole I decided in an instant I could replicate the recipe and I couldn’t wait to get home to try. I researched the ingredients for “traditional” guacamole, but as is my nature, I opted to add my own flair if you will. I knew it was good when my husband, who doesn’t usually appreciate my spicy goodness, helped himself to seconds, thirds, and eventually whole bowls. Now whenever I make it, he routinely takes a lion’s share down into the basement to have his own “come to Jesus moment” with a bag of dollar store tortilla chips. How déclassé? (I know, right?)
My guacamole blends all the essential elements along with a few unconventional ones. I prefer a “rustic” guacamole so I like it a little on the chunky side. (Ha! The one time when being chunky is a good thing.)
I start with 4 ripe avocados. Perfect avocados are firm to the touch and the flesh is like creamy butter. If the fruit is too soft or mushy when you gently press the skin then it is over-ripe and you should get another one. I used to work with a woman named Maria, who told me to put the avocado seeds in the guacamole to keep it from turning brown. So whenever I’m feeling particularly authentic, I add the seeds in honor of Maria.
I add about ¼ of a medium red onion. I like the flavor of red onions in raw dishes.
I seed and chop one jalapeño pepper. If you can take the heat, throw in the seeds. Growing up, my mother started most of her dishes with onion, green bell pepper, and celery. In my house my “mirepoix” is onion, garlic, and jalapeño pepper! Almost everything I cook starts this way.
I like to use heirloom tomatoes when I can get them. Usually two small or eight grape tomatoes are enough. Make sure you seed them which is nothing more than giving them a rough chop and squeezing out the juice. You don’t want watery guacamole.
Three to four cloves of minced fresh garlic provides additional heat (and bite). If you keep fresh garlic for no other reason than to make authentic guacamole, it’s well worth it.
I love the flavor of lime and I prefer my guacamole a little “limey” so I use the juice of two limes. Roll the fruit to release the juice before you cut them. After I squeeze, I usually have my husband squeeze a second time to get every available drop of juice.
Salt is by far the most important ingredient in guacamole. It releases the flavor of the other ingredients and let’s be honest, avocados have absolutely no flavor without it. I always suggest adding a little more salt than you think you need (then do it again). Trust me, you won’t make it salty and if by chance you do, add another avocado!
Whenever I use fresh onion and garlic I always add a liberal sprinkling of onion and garlic powder to deepen and intensity the flavor. My other secret ingredient is a few dashes of chipotle powder. It adds a smoky punch that takes guacamole to another level.
Finally, I know when it comes to cilantro, you either love it or hate it. I for one love it and I fold in a handful of chopped cilantro (leaves and stems) at the end. I don’t want to bruise the leaves and cripple its delicate flavor by mashing them up with the other ingredients. By the way, did you know cilantro helps bind heavy metals in the body? Just another reason to eat this stuff by the spoonful! Still, it’s an optional ingredient that won’t hurt the dish if you leave it out but will provide that certain “something something” that will make you say “holy guacamole!”
©2016 by Tasha D. Manigo-Bizzell