This week I give you my famous guacamole recipe. Although you can buy guac in the supermarket these days, nothing beats it fresh because avocados just can’t be effectively preserved, my friends!
First the back story: My friend Cheryl and I have been besties since I was about 19 years old (a really long time!). In fact, we call each other Sis and I am basically part of her family. Eons ago, she gave me a recipe from her mother for homemade guacamole. Although her family is not Mexican, Mom acquired the recipe from a neighbor when the family lived in Weslaco, Texas, back in the late 1970s, before I met them.
Wikipedia says the town’s name comes from the W.E. Stewart Land Company, the real estate development company that built the city after the railroad reached the Rio Grande Valley in the early 1900s. The town existed and exists today as home to agricultural workers. It’s evidently also the hometown of one of the Marines in the famous photograph of raising the flag at Iwo Jima. Today they have an annual onion festival. Now you know.
Anyway, Cheryl’s neighbor, apparently, worked for one of the local agricultural firms. His job was to graft types of avocados, and possibly other kinds of trees together to create resilient and fruitful specimens. This resulted in his having a “backyard full of avocado trees”, according to Cheryl. She says her and her two siblings were always playing in the trees. I’m guessing a few of those avocados made their way into her mother’s kitchen as well.
I’ve adjusted this recipe slightly. The original calls for adding tomatoes. But I find that the tomatoes turn soggy and gross if you refrigerate the guac for later. So instead, I recommend you serve the guacamole with tomatoes on the side.
A word about choosing avocados. It’s difficult. The color should be like an alligator. In fact, in some quarters the avocado is known as alligator fruit. If you’ve ever seen the skin of an avocado, you’ll know why. If you don’t know what color that is, check the photo below. The skin should be a combination of dark green mottled with some light green, not completely dark. Neither should the skin be all light green. Squeeze them a little. They should be firm but slightly yielding and never mushy or completely hard. It takes some practice, so keep trying.
Also, you can ripen avocados at home in a paper bag or sheet of newspaper. However, they must already be on their way to ripening for this to work. It shouldn’t take more than three days or so. I’ve tried this with avocados that were simply picked too soon. They eventually turned dark green and mushy with no intermediate ripe stage. I’ve had a lot of experience trying to ripen them because it’s very hard to find good avocados here in Germany. They just come from too far away. Likely as not they are hard and inedible if I can find them at all.
Another rarity here is fresh cilantro. I had to go to three markets to find the cilantro for this photo shoot, and I found it only because it’s springtime. And just forget finding jalapeños. I buy them when I see them – maybe twice a year – that’s when I make the most guac. You can use other peppers or leave them out altogether, but the jalapeño is traditional and tastes best.
Start by chopping fresh red onion, garlic, jalapeño and cilantro. Also bring a little salt and a fresh lime to the table. If your jalapeño is really hot, leave out the seeds and white pith inside to lessen the heat. For the mild one I found here I used all the seeds and all the pith, but it was not even mildly hot. Just a fresh pepper taste, that’s all.
This next step is a relatively recent addition to my procedure. My husband suggested it after seeing someone make guacamole in an online video. Put all of the ingredients except the lime and avocado into a mortar and pestle. Grind it together to make a coarse paste. This is the mole, in Spanish. I’m guessing that the guaca part of the word comes from aguacate, the Spanish for avocado.
I used to just put everything in with the avocados without the mortar and pestle step. Then I’d have to refrigerate the guac for about an hour to marry
the flavors. This way, the flavors blend immediately and you can have it even sooner at peak taste.
Do all this before you start with the avocados to minimize the time the flesh is exposed to air. The avocado flesh will turn brown very quickly after they’re opened.
So now process the tiny alligators. First remove the “belly button” from the end.
Slice it in half all the way around the fruit lengthways. The giant pit in the middle will stop your knife. Twist the two halves apart. The pit will be stuck in one of the halves. Hold that half in one palm. Quickly and with some force, jam your knife blade into the pit.
Hold your knife by the back edge of the blade just above the pit and twist until the pit comes loose. Carefully remove the pit from the knife blade and discard it. Always use a metal knife for this, never a ceramic one. The ceramic blade will break in two under this kind of stress.
The flesh should be a beautiful, creamy light yellow-green in the center fading to a rich, dark green near the skin. It should not have any brown or hard spots. Now score the flesh inside the two halves with the tip of your knife.
Use a big tablespoon to scoop out the pieces. Put the pieces in a bowl and squeeze the lime juice over them. Toss it frequently as you cut each fruit to keep the pieces coated in lime juice. This keeps the flesh from turning brown.
When you have all the avocados cut and in the bowl, add the mole.
Photo for No Apparent Reason: