Whenever I'm asked to bring something to a party, or I'm faced with drinks with a gang at home, I fall back on good old guacamole. I know it's a cliché food, seen everywhere, totally forgettable, and base in its very conception (something you dip chips in), but that doesn't keep me from making about 12 gallons of the stuff a year.
Why? Because my guacamole is so damned good that people ask for it all the time, and then they want the recipe. I know: it's just guacamole. But something about mine makes it irresistible. I didn't create this site to brag about my cooking -- it's intended just to be a record of what I cooked, since some people seem to be interested in that -- but I'm just reporting the facts here: apparently I have some kind of guacamole mojo.
What's even more interesting about this situation is that until now I didn't really have a recipe for guacamole. I just threw it together and corrected it by tasting. People have their prejudices and beliefs about guac (garlic or not; tomatoes?; onions?; jalapeños? cumin? cilantro? food processor or hand mash?), and I'm sure there are other good recipes, but I don't really listen to that noise, since my version works for me. It's just avocado, garlic, lime juice, cayenne pepper, salt and cilantro, usually with a chopped tomato garnish, and it's made in a food processor.
Anyway, after another party and twelve more requests for the recipe, I finally measured and recorded what I threw into my guac. I also did a little web-surfing, looking for something interesting to report about guacamole. Nada! Or, almost-nada: It dates back to the Aztecs, several sites say. 5% of U.S. avocado sales take place around 4 days of the year: Easter (go figure), Cinco de Mayo, July Fourth and Super Bowl Sunday (from Wikipedia). Also, after reading a lot of other recipes, it seems that the Hass variety of avocados (pear shaped, nubbly dark green skin, which gets darker as they ripen -- shown on the right) that I use is pretty much the standard...which is a good thing because it's available nearly everywhere (in the U.S.), nearly all the time.
So, I'd love to wax eloquent about guacamole, or bring some interesting tidbit of history into play, but in the end, it's just guacamole. One of our favorite comfort foods, and a preparation I make all the time. Enjoy!
5 medium-sized ripe avocado (preferably the Hass variety)
3 large garlic cloves, peeled, minced
1/2 tsp cayenne, or to taste
juice of one lime, or to taste
salt to taste
1/4 cup tomato, peeled, seeded, chopped (optional)
With a paring knife, cut out the stem-end ("eye") of the avocados and discard. Cut four of the avocados in half longitudinally, remove and discard the seed, and scoop the meat into the bowl of a food processor.
Add the garlic, cayenne and lime juice to the processor bowl. Process until smooth. Correct seasoning (be generous with the salt -- sometimes I think the main reason people like my guac is that it's salted adequately).
Halve and seed the remaining avocado. Before removing the meat from the skin, cut it into 1/4" dice with the paring knife (cut 1/4" slices the long way, dragging the point of the knife against the inside of the skin, then cut crosswise at 1/4" intervals). Scoop the resulting chunks into the processed guacamole and stir to distribute.
To serve, garnish with the cilantro and, if using, the optional tomato. Tortilla chips are, of course, the standard chip to serve with guacamole.
Most supermarkets most of the time only have rock-hard avocados, so it can take some planning. Allow about 3 days for an unrefrigerated hard avocado to ripen into usefulness. Storing them in a closed brown paper bag can accelerate the process a bit. If they get too ripe, or they are ripe enough when you buy them, put them in the refrigerator to slow the process. Avocados are ripe when they yield slightly to firm finger pressure.