Sunday, August 16, 2009

Guacamole to Teach You a Lesson

During my first year of graduate school, my roommates and I invited a few people over to watch the Superbowl. Right after debating whether people could sit comfortably on each of the dollhouse-furniture loveseats in our basement apartment, we turned our attention to food. I decided to try my hand at an appetizer.

You need to understand that this was a bigger deal than it seems. After all, this was the year in which I prepared the same dinner almost every night: a piece of grilled chicken and some kind of vegetable (often broccoli) over a bed of pasta, doused with Newman's Own Balsamic Salad Dressing. For two semesters in a row, followed by a summer internship, this is what I ate. Every. Single. Night.

I know.

Cooking wasn't really my thing back then, but by early February, I was ready to try a few new dishes. Plus, The Food Network was running Rachael Ray's 30-Minute Meals every afternoon and as a graduate student, I had lots of time in the afternoon to watch television. The combination of taste exhaustion and a Food Network education inspired me to wander over to the avocados in the grocery store on the day of the game.

Guacamole seemed like the very thing. Unfortunately, as I mentioned earlier, this all occurred in early February, months before avocado season. Therefore, the avocados that I picked up were little green rocks that had no chance to ripen before that evening's game. Being a total novice and the type of person who could eat the same four-ingredient meal every night for months on end, I didn't pick up on this fact.

It turned out that you cannot make guacamole out of green Hass avocados. And crunchy guacamole is never worth the effort.

The moral of the story for me was, of course, always purchase your guacamole. No, just kidding, I learned that I need to buy my avocados in season and a day (or two) before they are needed. However, it was a long time before I made guacamole again. Once I did, I found that nothing beats good homemade guacamole.

Sarah's Guacamole
A Fritter Original

Hass avocados are better for guacamole than Florida avocados because they have a buttery, nutty taste and texture that the Florida variety lacks. Also, please note that this recipe does not contain sour cream. If your avocados are perfectly ripe, you may find that you do not even miss it. If you simply must have sour cream, though, feel free to add a few dollops.

5 ripe Hass avocados
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
1 tomato, seeded, cored, and roughly chopped into medium-sized pieces
1 tablespoon fresh jalapeno, chopped
The juice of 1 lime (about 2 tablespoons)
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste if needed
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
*optional: a few springs of cilantro. Some people loath cilantro, though, so I usually leave it out unless I know my audience well.

Pit the avocados and scoop each avocado from its shell into a medium-sized bowl. Mash with the back of a fork or a potato masher with wide slats just until the avocado has been broken down into bite-sized pieces.*

Combine all of the other ingredients with the avocado. Serve immediately with tortilla chips, or, if you want to make this ahead of time, prepare up to two hours ahead, then cover with plastic wrap so that the wrap actually seals directly to the guacamole (this will prevent browning), and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Serves: appetizer portions for 4 people

* No matter what you've seen in cheap Tex-Mex restaurants, do not, under any circumstances, put this beautiful fruit into a mixer and puree it to the consistency of baby food. Just don't; that is so wrong.


muddywaters said...

When I was single, I rarely cooked anything interesting. It's much more enjoyable to cook for others.

We make guacamole a lot in our household. Friday evenings often consist of a cocktail, chips, guacamole, and pico de gallo.

I've heard avacados make good baby food.

muddywaters said...

I remember when Laura Bush shared her guacamole recipe, and people were upset because she used lemon juice. While I use lime juice, I'm OK with her using lemon juice.

Grace said...

so much for variety being the spice of life, eh? i'm glad you've moved away from the pasta/chicken rut. your guac recipe sounds perfect, and that's coming from someone who likes to consider herself a guacamole connoisseur. :)

Foodycat said...

I've never put cumin in mine - I must try it! I totally agree about the haas avocadoes.

BTW - for my household in 2nd year university, we ate Chicken Tonight, broccoli and white rice at least 4 nights a week for the whole year. And something with hamburger helper the other 3 days.