In honor of National Snack Food Day tomorrow, I decided to once again repost my famous guacamole recipe. As many of you know, I was once a guacamole purist, willing to go to insane lengths to grind every last bit of loose gravel from a lava molcajete, which as it turns out is just plain not possible. But last Labor Day, when my friend, the brilliant chef Nancy Silverton asked me to bring enough guac for 40 to contribute to the burger feast at her house, well, let’s just say I gave in.
Here, you can see, I started with a molcajete, and all the best intentions.
But it soon became apparent that my avocados were bigger than my molcajete. And I don’t mean that metaphorically.
So I resorted to this: one of the most beloved and used gadgets in my kitchen: the Cuisinart Mini Prep, AKA: the Modern Man’s Molcajete. I chose this particular color to post here because it is the color of the house we lived in in Tijuana until I was three, where I must have eaten my first ever guacamole in its natural habitat.
To make guacamole in the mini prep, the key is to grind the ingredients–that is, the onion, serrano, cilantro, and salt (recipe is reposted below)–only until it is paste. Stop. That’s enough! Trust me. Better to have the rogue bit of serrano than a bowlful of juice.
Dump half of the paste into a big bowl. Add the avocados, season them with salt, and smash the avocados into the paste until they are integrated but the guac still has texture, adding more paste until the guacamole is your idea of perfect.
Guacamole Made in a Food Processor (Ay Ay Ay.)
4 serrano chiles, halved and seeds removed (Why anyone would ever eat a jalapeño pepper after tasting one of these is beyond me. Probably because, like my very own self before preparing for competition, they never actually tasted one in any deliberate way. Once you do, you’ll realize that jalapeños are sort of bitter and disgusting tasting and, given the choice, you should always reach for the smaller, slimmer, and infinitely tastier serrano).
About 1/8 of a white (by which I do not mean yellow) onion, roughly chopped
A small handful of cilantro leaves (This wasn’t in my original recipe–what can I say: people evolve. I sometimes use it, sometimes don’t. What I never do is add the leaves as I want it to flavor the guacamole, not stick to someone’s front tooth.)
4 ripe Hass avocados, halved, pitted, and scooped out of the peel
1 or 2 Mexican (aka key) limes
Maldon sea salt or Fleur de sel
Throw the onion, serranos, and cilantro, into the bowl of your Modern Man’s Molcajete. Season with salt. Pulse the machine until you have a fairly smooth paste but nothing even resembling juice. You may want to stop and scrape down the sides of your food processor from time to time so that you don’t juice some ingredients while the others wait on the side of the bowl for their turn at the blade.
Dump the paste out into a bowl large enough to hold your avocados. Add the avocados and smash them with a fork or potato masher until they are 1) smashed. and 2) integrated with the paste. Add a bit of lime juice, taste, and add more lime or salt if necessary. Taste it again, adjust it again, and just when you think that your guacamole is perfect, add some more salt, and serve with homemade tortilla chips. Okay, here you go.
Home Made Chips
This is recycled from last year’s blog post.
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.
While you have your mini on the countertop, I recommend you also make this charred smoky tomato salsa, which may be the best tomato salsa I’ve ever eaten if I do say so myself. Even though this time of year, tomatoes tend to taste less like tomatoes than geraniums, it doesn’t matter, because in the ancient culinary traditions of my people, the flavor here is all about the char. Olé. And may the best team win, whatever the options happen to be.
Smoky Tomato Salsa
Makes 2 cups
1 pound roma tomatoes, charred on a hot grill or in a searing hot dry (as in not oiled) skillet until they are black in places and collapsed
1 yellow onion, sliced, oiled, and charred on the grill or in the skillet until they are black in places
4 garlic cloves, browned in their skins on that grill or in that skillet
1 tablespoon plus 1 to 2 teaspoons canned chipotles in adobe, pureed
1 teaspoon chipotle chile powder (if you don’t have this or can’t find it easily, skip it. Your salsa will still rock)
2 to 3 teaspoons salt
Puree the charred tomatoes (including any juices that have collected in whatever vessel you’ve put them on), onion, and garlic in a food processor until they are coarsely pureed. Add the chipotle puree, chipotle power, salt, and sugar and stir to combine. Taste for seasoning and add more of whatever you want. Serve with your guacamole and homemade chips and everyone within reach of them will love you.