Guac Your Heads Off! Or: Would You Like Some Chips to Go with that Touchdown?

February 6, 2011 § Leave a comment

With the Superbowl here ‘n’ all, there are some things we’ve all learned to expect. An extraordinary and appalling rise in domestic violence, really great 60-second commercials, such as the famous 1984 Apple Computers commercial that changed the commercial world–and the world. And a bevy (you gotta love the opportunity to use the word “bevy”) of good ol’ all-American snack foods, guacamole, having been naturalized in this country after we adopted it from our brothers to the south, chief among them.

I happen to think that my World Famous Award-Winning Guacamole recipe is the best there is, so I’m posting it for you here, with two amendments. In the recipe, I added the minced red jalapeño peppers, and while they don’t do any harm to the guacamole, as tomatoes most definitely do, they don’t add much, or anything–except color. I don’t know what I was thinking. All I can say is that it was a competition, and I must have been, to use a tennis expression, pressing. Adding little minced red peppers “just for color” is just the sort of lily-gilding that really annoys me about the way food is moving today (I practically refuse to go to any restaurant that serves an orange slice on the side of my breakfast plate, and let’s not even talk about those pickled apple rings and curly parsley.) So what I”m trying to say is, drop the red jalapeño peppers, people. Do us both a favor and just let them go. The other thing I have to say is that if you don’t have a molcajete, fear not. Since Aztec times, there has been a handy invention called the food processor. Use that to grind—or rather, whirl— your chilies, onions, and salt into an acid green paste. Dump the paste into a bowl, and mash the avocados into the paste with a fork or potato masher.

But what I’m really here for is not the recycling of an old blog posted recipe, but something new, and, like that Apple commercial, possibly life altering, and that is, the homemade tortilla chip. I fried chips for a taco party last summer, and while I was not surprised to see how much the guests loved them or the fact that, fry as I did, I could not keep up with their consumption, I was very surprised to find that guests were astonished to learn that chips could be homemade. They can. They’re made like this:

Pour some frying oil (corn, canola, or vegetable) and heat it to frying temperature, which is 375, over high heat. If you don’t have a deep-fry thermometer, heat the oil until a pinch of salt sizzles madly when you drop it into the oil. Then turn the heat down a bit, otherwise the oil will keep heating and get too hot. If it starts smoking, it’s too hot. In a perfect world you should probably dump the oil at this point and start over, but that’s entirely up to you. Now, take a stack of corn tortillas–maybe 3 or 4–not so tall that you can’t cut through them. For this, you want regular grocery store tortillas. Homemade tortillas are too thick for chips so don’t go trying to get fancy. Now take a big knife and cut through the stack, like a pie, to make chip-shaped wedges (One tortilla makes either six or eight chips.) Do this wedge-cutting with all of your tortillas, and if you’re wondering how many to make, don’t worry about it because no matter how many you do make, you will run out. So  make what you want. While the oil is heating, make a nice, comfortable bed for the chips with paper towels, have your kosher salt handy, and find something you can use to drag chips out of oil. (The Joyce Chen stainless-steel strainer is my favorite tool for the job, but if you don’t happy to have o ne, even a slotted spoon or spatula will do.) Now that you’re all set up and your oil is hot, drop some tortilla wedges–but not so many that you crowd the pan–in the oil. Fry them until they are golden brown and look like something you’re dying to eat. Lift the chips out of the oil and onto the paper towels and before you do anything else, sprinkle them with more salt than you actually want to. Health-conscious freaks note: Most of the salt will fall off anyway, and besides, it’s Super Bowl Sunday! At least you’re not eating a fried Twinkie! Fry the rest of the tortilla wedges in the same way, adding more oil to the pot as the oil level starts to drop and letting it get nice and hot before putting more chips in. Now… If you want a real treat, fry flour tortillas (buy the smaller, corn tortilla size ones) in the same way. You’ll probably want my phone number at this point so you can call to thank me. You’re welcome. Happy cheering, fans. And keep your whips off your wives.

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