I adore guacamole. I eat it on tortilla chips, pretzels, in burritos, on hamburgers, fries, sandwiches, over rice, by the spoonful… Whatever is the fastest and most efficient delivery system available to get the guacamole from the bowl to my mouth is the one I’m going to choose. This is one of those foods that makes my eyes roll back into my head. It is, not to put too fine a point on it, the bees-knobbly-little-knees.
Guacamole is at it’s best when you can recognize everything that goes into it; bits of avocado, onions, garlic, cilantro, lime juice, salt and pepper. If you’re adventurous and like little a little heat, mince up some jalapeños or serranos and mix them in with the rest. I like diced, seeded tomato in mine as well.
I am fully aware that there are more guacamole recipes on the internet than there are children in my house and that is saying something. There are bajillions. Everyone and their abuela has the best ‘recipe’. I’m sure those recipes are just fine. But I’m high maintenance about guacamole.
Guacamole needs body! It needs oomph. Smooth guacamole isn’t guacamole at all, really. It’s just green chip dip.
I am a complete guacamole snob and I make no apologies. There are rules, people, and they must be followed.
- The avocados must be perfectly ripe. Perfectly. Ripe. This is truly the most important of all the rules. If you have lousy avocados, your guac will be inedible. And ugly. It might make you cry. (Don’t fret. I’ll share tips on avocado selection below.)
- Keep it simple. A truly great guacamole requires only five ingredients. My favorite has eight ingredients. You can embellish, but it’s not necessary. This is the time to be the Coco Chanel of cooking (remove one accessory.)
- There must be recognizable pieces of avocado in the guacamole. You can’t hide avocados in this dish, so why try? Remember: No Smooth Guac! (Hello. I am the Joan Crawford of Guacamole, apparently.)
- Don’t even think of using a spice packet. It’s unnecessary. It’s highway robbery. You don’t need those expensive little envelopes of unpronounceable ingredients of indeterminate origins. Stick with rule #2 and you’ll be golden.
- If it comes in a tub it’s not going to be great. It might be passable, or even tasty, but it will never be great. You can bet the bank on that one. It can’t possibly be as good as your homemade stuff unless they have some guy standing at the counter smashing the avocados with a potato masher in front of your eyes then loading the tub.
- (How could I have forgotten this? A friend reminded me:) ONLY use Haas avocados, for the love of all that is good and guac-y. Smooth skinned avocados are anemic on flavour and texture for this. And finally…
- Strictly speaking, this is about the serving vehicle and not the guacamole, but it’s important nonetheless. Use good chips to eat it. (If you’re dipping, that is.) There’s nothing worse than making the world’s best guacamole and serving it on sad, crumbly, pansy chips. I love mine on homemade chips, but a good quality tortilla chip from the store is a nice alternative.
So now that I’ve laid OCD Chef’s smack down, let me say that yes, bad avocados= bad guacamole. I think a lot of folks are too intimidated to make guacamole because they think it’s hard to pick a good avocado. I want to reassure you it’s easier than you think to choose a perfect avocado (or choose one that will be perfect with a little T.L.C. Keep these tips in mind…
- Look for an avocado whose skin is uniformly coloured and does not have any obvious soft spots (darker, sunken areas beyond the normal bumpy avocado skin.)
- Hold the avocado in your hand. Press gently against the base, the side and near the top of the avocado with the pads of your fingers. Did your finger push into the skin or feel like you were pressing on a ripe peach? That avocado is too far gone. Don’t get it. Did it yield a bit but still feel firm? That’s exactly the one you want. Proceed to the next test.
- Rub your finger gently over the stem. It should pop away easily if it is perfectly ripe.
- Store your chosen perfect avocados in the refrigerator for up to two days, checking every day. Perfect avocados do not store well for long!
Do you want to buy avocados to use in a couple of days rather than tonight? Still look for the uniformly coloured, firm avocados, but choose one that…
- does not yield when gently pressed. You want it to feel firm. The firmer it is, the longer it will take to ripen at home.
- holds onto its stem when the stem is rubbed with your fingertips or thumb.
- does not have any obvious discolorations or softer spots.
When you get your under ripe avocados home, don’t put them in the refrigerator! Put them in a paper bag, then roll the top down two or three times and leave on the countertop until perfectly ripe. This can take anywhere from 12-72 hours, depending on how under ripe they were when you put them in the bag. When ripe, use immediately or refrigerate for up to two days.
Let’s get onto the cooking, shall we? All this talk about guacamole has made me very, very hungry.
- 3 perfectly ripe avocados
- 1-2 fresh limes to taste
- 1 small Vidalia onion or other sweet, peeled and diced
- 1 medium ripe tomato seeds removed and diced
- 1 small washed bunch of cilantro *See notes for what to do with stems., leaves removed and coarsely chopped
- 1/2-2 jalapeno or serrano chiles seeds and stems removed then minced
- 1 1/2-2 cloves of garlic peeled and minced or pressed
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper start at 1/2 teaspoon and work up from there, if desired., to taste
- Halve the avocados then remove and discard their pits.
- Use a serving spoon to scoop the avocado flesh from the shells into a mixing bowl.
- Squeeze the juice of one lime over the avocados.
- Use a potato masher or the bottom of a sturdy drinking cup to smash the avocados just to the point where it is a creamy mixture with recognizable pieces of avocado in varying sizes in it.
- Stir in the remaining ingredients.
- Taste the guacamole and adjust salt, pepper and lime juice, if desired.
- To store the guacamole, lay a piece of plastic wrap directly on its surface, smoothing and making sure there are no air pockets.
*Store cilantro stems in the freezer in a resealable bag. You can toss stems in with dried beans, soups and sauces while they simmer to impart cilantro flavour. Fish the stems out before serving! A word about guacamole's reputation for getting ugly... Air pockets and exposure cause guacamole to darken. This does not change the flavour, but it does curb the visual appeal of the dip. So, to lengthen the amount of time that your guacamole stays pretty, be sure to follow the instructions to lay plastic wrap directly on the surface until serving time. Leftovers will store admirably when covered the same way for about 24-36 hours.