The Secrets to Great Guacamole
On vacation I read a travel magazine that featured an article about a cooking school in Mexico at a posh resort called Las Ventanas al Paraiso that is located in Los Cabos. In the article executive chef Fabrice Guisset talks about making a classic guacamole recipe that he says is “the best guacamole in Mexico.”
My wife is the guacamole maker in our house and she makes, in my opinion, a great guacamole. She tells me the trick is not to over work the avocado and that’s exactly what this article talked about.
Every bite should have a slightly different taste and texture.” It went on to say, “if it all tastes the same, it’s no fun to eat and it hasn’t been made right.
Basically, what they are saying is if you put all the ingredients into a blender or food processor and puree them up, you won’t be able to taste the different layers with each bite. I’m sure most of you are used to a whipped style of guacamole that you are served at Mexican restaurants or purchase at the supermarket.
Not there is anything wrong with this style guacamole. We purchase a brand of refrigerated guacamole at Costco that is perfect when someone drops over unexpectedly and you need a quick appetizer.
We usually buy a few at a time and keep some in the freezer. My wife often adds some pieces of fresh avocado to give it the extra flavor and texture and our friends rave about it.
Back to the Best Guacamole
According to Chef Guisset, the secret to great guacamole is the
combination of whole avocado pieces plus slightly mashed avocado and other ingredients.” The article describes, “the outside of the fruit, just under the skin, is softer than the flesh closest to the pit.” So ideally, you want to mash the softer pieces of the flesh and combine it with the firmer pieces.
Of course you want to use a ripe avocado and not a rock hard unripe one. You won’t get anywhere with those. Once you have the avocado prepped, you want to combine it with, according to Chef Guisset, “small amounts of raw onion, tomato, cilantro, lime juice and salt, all to taste.
The Best Tool For Preparing Great Guacamole
The article talks about using a molcajete (mol-kah-HAY-tay), Mexican for mortar and pestle made from volcanic lava rock and found in most Mexican kitchens. Using a mortar and pesto, a home cook can regulate the texture of the guacamole and therefore, “improve flavor.”
In our house, we use a fork and get pretty good results but I’m going to have to try using a molcajete in the future. You can also try using a potato masher.
Another Point of View
This sounds good to me and I love cooking by taste without exact measurements but I know my readers like something more definitive so I consulted with a cookbook recently given to me by my sister-in-law by Chef Rick Bayless called Mexican Everyday.
My sister-in-law Judy loves this cookbook and has made many of the recipes in it and told me they have all been great. I can’t wait to try some of these recipes myself and report on them to you.
What Does Chef Bayless Say
According to Chef Bayless, classic Mexican guacamole is a condiment to be “spread on sandwiches and grilled meat” made with just three ingredients; avocado, garlic and salt. Anything extra to some Mexican cooks is “the first step on the road to ruin.” In other words, less is more.
I’m sure most of you think of cilantro and lime juice in addition to avocado, garlic and salt when it comes to preparing guacamole. So in Mexican Everyday, Chef Bayless shows you three ways to make guacamole. As he describes them, “Simple, Herby or Luxurious.”
- Start by cutting the avocados in half and removing the pit. The easiest way to do this is cut around the avocados lengthwise down to the pit. Split the avocados in half by twisting the two halves. Using the heel of your knife, stab the pit and remove it.
- Score the avocado meat with your knife and then scoop it out with a spoon. Mash the softer, riper flesh with a potato masher or large fork to a texture you like.
- Add the garlic and salt to taste. Start with about ½ a teaspoon of salt and adjust. Be sure not to overwork the avocado. You want some chunks in the mix.
Herby Guacamole- my favorite version
- To the Simple Guacamole recipe above, add 2 tablespoons of chopped cilantro and about 1 tablespoon of fresh lime juice.
- At this point you can add various ingredients to make it more "luxurious" but be careful not to overdue it. In my opinion, you don't want to add to many flavors to compete with the simple and clean flavors of the avocado, garlic and salt. I really believe that "less is more" in this and many of the meals I prepare.
- The two most popular "additional" ingredients are diced tomato and chopped onion but some folks like to add fresh chopped chilies to give it a little heat.
- You can try jalapeno, Serrano or green chilies but be careful not to overheat the guacamole.