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Guacamole

Updated February 23, 2016
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This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

Over the years at Rosa Mexicano, we have run through so many avocados for guacamole that if you placed them side by side they would stretch from New York to Tierra del Fuego and back—maybe twice! It is our signature dish—nine out of ten guests order it. One of the things that makes guacamole at Rosa Mexicano special is that when we opened in 1984, we were among the first, if not the first, restaurant on either side of the border to serve guacamole prepared tableside in a traditional molcajete. We take our guacamole very seriously; in fact, you could say we are obsessed with it, and fanatical about consistency. I am frequently asked what makes our guacamole so special. For one, we take great care in preparing the chile paste that is the underpinning of the dish—that’s where the layered flavors come from. We begin by grinding some onions, chiles, and cilantro together in a molcajete. (The proportions are critical, so follow the recipe.) Then we gently toss in cubed avocado so that every piece is coated evenly. Before one of our waiters is allowed to prepare guacamole tableside, he or she must pass our rigorous training course, which might be called Molcajete 101. For the guest, the guacamole is great theater—and better eating.

Jalapeños can vary tremendously in hotness, so taste the guacamole just after folding in the avocado and add more if you like.

The Molcajete

The molcajete is to Mexican cooking what sparkplugs are to a car–an indispénsable conduit of energy without which you won’t get far. It’s great for grinding small quantities of spices, herbs, or garlic and for making any kind of salsa. Fortunately, today moicajetes are more widely available–even Williams-Sonoma features them in its recent catalogues. A good home-size moicajete, which will cost between $30 and $50, should be heavy (as much as 12 pounds) and smooth all around, with a heavy conical pestle (called mano or tejolote in mexico). A moicajete needs seasoning before use.

Makes4 servings

CostInexpensive

Easy

Total Timeunder 30 minutes

One Pot MealYes

OccasionBuffet, Casual Dinner Party, game day

Recipe Courseappetizer, snack

Dietary Considerationegg-free, gluten-free, halal, kosher, lactose-free, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free, vegan, vegetarian

Mealdinner, lunch, snack

Taste and Texturebuttery, creamy, herby, rich, savory

Type of Dishdip/spread

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped white onion
  • 1 firmly packed tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped jalapeno, or more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or as needed
  • 3 medium ripe but firm Hass avocados (about 8 ounces each)
  • 3 tablespoons diced tomato
  • 2 firmly packed tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped white onion
  • Salt if necessary
  • Tortilla Chips
  • Fresh Corn Tortillas

Instructions

Make the chile paste: Grind the onion, cilantro, jalapeño, and salt together in a molcajete until all the ingredients are very finely ground. Alternatively, use a fork to mash all the ingredients to a paste in a wide hardwood bowl.

Cut each avocado in half, working the knife blade around the pit. Twist the halves to separate them and flick out the pit with the tip of the knife. Fold a kitchen towel in quarters and hold it in the palm of your “non-knife” hand. Rest an avocado half cut side up in your palm and make 3 or 4 evenly spaced lengthwise cuts through the avocado flesh down to the skin, without cutting through it. Make 4 crosswise cuts in the same way. Scoop the diced avocado flesh into the molcajete. Repeat with the remaining avocado halves.

Gently fold the avocado into the paste, keeping the avocado in as large pieces as possible. Add the tomato, cilantro, and onion and fold in gently. Check and add salt if necessary. Serve immediately, right from the molcajete (or bowl), with the chips and tortillas.

VARIATIONS

Guacamole with Seafood (Guacamole con Mariscos)

Makes 6 servings

¼ pound lump crabmeat (preferably jumbo), picked over for shells and cartilage (about ½ cup)

¼ pound cooked peeled baby shrimp, left whole, or larger shrimp, cut into small pieces

3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

2 tablespoons finely chopped jalapeño

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 teaspoons chipotle adobo puree

Salt to taste

Toss all the ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Let stand at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes.

Prepare the guacamole, adding the marinated seafood salad at the end along with the tomato, cilantro, and onion.

Guacamole with Fruit (Guacamole can Frutas)

Makes 6 servings

Diana Kennedy, the Julia Child of Mexican cookbook authors, and Maria Dolores Torres-Izabal, a dear friend and author of The Mexican Gourmet, introduced me to guacamole with fruit. This is a specialty of two states in central Mexico—Morelos and Guanajuato. The contrast between the spicy guacamole and the sweet and juicy fruits is delicious. The dish should always look a little over the top—use the most beautiful, ripe fruits you can find and as many of the embellishments as you like.

Prepare the, guacamole, omitting the cilantro entirely. Gently fold in 12 black grapes, halved; 12 green grapes, halved; and 1 cup peeled and diced (¼-inch) peaches or mango. Taste the guacamole and add additional chile or salt to balance the sweetness of the fruits.

Pile the guacamole into martini glasses or half-coconut shells and decorate with any or all of these garnishes: sliced peeled peaches, pomegranate seeds, toasted coconut flakes, and/or raspberries.

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