Guacamole is a creamy, flavourful sauce that dates back to the Aztecs and is very common in Mexican cuisine. It is made primarily of avocado, with various additions depending on the region of Mexico where the guacamole is made.
Guacamole also happens to be one of my favourite foods ever - I could eat it by the bucketful! I went to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico last Christmas with my family and before every meal we had fresh guacamole that was made tableside in a traditional molcajete. A molcajete is the traditional Mexican stone mortar and pestle used for making guacamole and salsa. They are still handmade in Mexico today – you can find them at specialty stores or just use a regular mortar and pestle.
So what purpose does the molcajete serve? Since vegetables pack their flavour inside their cells, you've got to break down cell walls either by cooking, grinding, or chewing to access that flavour. If you just chop and incorporate these vegetables and herbs directly into the guacamole, you won’t be getting the best flavour possible. By releasing the flavour compounds by crushing them before you add the avocado and begin to chew you are guaranteed to have the most authentic, and flavourful guacamole that will transport you to Mexico! If you don’t have a molcajete or mortar and pestle then the modern day piece of equipment to use would be a food processor.
4 ripe avocados – The Hass avocado is the preferred type of avocado for making guacamole and the most widely available in grocery stores. The prime season for avocados is late winter/early spring, but they are available in grocery stores year round.
1 small white onion, roughly chopped - In Mexico the most commonly used onion is the white onion. Unlike the yellow, red or purple, the white onion is not sweet and has a pure hot flavor.
1 Serrano chile, roughly chopped – The serrano chile (along with the jalapeno) is the most common chile in Mexico. It is a level above jalapeno peppers in heat, but if you can’t find one then feel free to substitute with a jalapeno. You should wear gloves when chopping the chile and make sure there are no large chunks before adding it to your guacamole.
1/2 cup picked cilantro leaves, finely chopped, divided
1-2 tsp. kosher salt
2 Tbsp juice, from two limes
2 tomatoes, finely chopped - Select ripe but still firm red tomatoes. If tomatoes are not in season then you may want to purchase Italian or plum style for the most flavour.
Corn tortilla chips for serving
Place onion, chile, half of cilantro leaves, and salt in a mortar and pestle. Pound into a fine paste. Alternatively, you could combine onion, chili, half of the cilantro, salt, and half of lime juice in a food processor and process until a smooth paste is formed, scraping down the sides as needed.
Split your avocados in half by cutting lengthwise all the way around. Remove and discard the pit, and spoon out the flesh into a medium bowl. Roughly mash in the bowl with a fork.
Add the onion/chili puree, remaining cilantro leaves, chopped tomatoes, and half of the lime juice to the bowl of mashed avocados. Gently fold to combine. Season to taste with more salt and lime juice.
Garnish with fresh cilantro leaves and serve immediately with warm tortilla chips.Yield: Serves 8 as an appetizer, or 4 if you love huge portions of guacamole like my family and I do!
Preserve leftover guacamole by placing a double layer of plastic wrap directly over the surface and refrigerating for no longer than 24 hours for best quality. Once you've got your avocado mashed oxygen and enzymes immediately start turning the exposed flesh brown. Though there are a few old-wives tales claiming that throwing the pit into the bowl or adding lemon/lime juice will help prevent this from happening, neither is true and the avocado will brown at the same rate. The only way to prevent browning from happening is to prevent contact with oxygen.
If you have a leftover avocado from a different recipe that hasn’t been mashed already, there are a few ways to keep it from browning. Plastic wrap works temporarily, but it is oxygen-permeable so avocados won’t last more than about 8 hours before starting to brown. If you have half an avocado with a smooth face, you can rub it will oil and place it face down on an oiled plate. If you have ¾ or ¼ of an avocado, then you can store the avocado pieces in a plastic container filled with water in the fridge for up to 24 hours. Since avocado is so dense and high in fact, water is slow to penetrate it. You can also freeze avocado halves by wrapping them in plastic and placing them in a freezer bag.
*Recipe by Brooke McMillan
*Recipe by Brooke McMillan
P.S. Check out this handy guide for determining avocado ripeness I discovered! This will be so helpful in the grocery store when shopping for perfectly ripe avocados, or at home when you're trying to decide whether or not it's time to cut into your avocados.