Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Rock this guac

Guacamole with chips by Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books
I love the way supermarkets are designed for impulse buyers. From the glistening red ripe strawberries just inside the door, to the cartoon character cereal at kid eye-level, to the intoxicating scent of roasting chicken wafting from the deli at 5 p.m., it's all there to make me shove my shopping list to the bottom of the Vera and give in to temptation. The strawberries, at 2 for $5, usually make their way into the buggy, (after I turn the package upside down to check for signs of slushiness or mold). I usually avoid the kiddie cereal, but the roast chicken is another matter. I make an excellent butter-roasted chicken, but it's easier and less expensive to buy the roasted bird in the cute bag with a handle.

My other impulse buy is avocados, directly behind the strawberries in my market. The pebbly exerior of a Hass avocado hides the creamy celadon flesh, and I take my time selecting the fruit, picking up only the glossy, heavy ones that just barely give when gently pressed. I buy exactly two, because the sign says 2 for $3, and eat them over the next four days, each morning spreading half on a split whole wheat bagel - my favorite breakfast.


Perfectly ripe avocadoes by Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books.
When I'm feeling flush, and when the avocados look especially good, I'll buy extras and make guacamole, the essential smashed avocado dip. There are lots of variations out there, pureed, whipped and loaded with everything from tomatoes and onion to bacon and olives. (And in the context of loaded guacamole, this bacon version by Susan Russo is to live for). My favorite guac, however, the kind I make for just me and my family, my own rockin' guacamole, is really very simple. And like the simplest recipes, attention to technique and ingredients can mean the difference between everyday and out of this world.

My Guacamole

enough for my family of 4, multiply p.r.n.

4 avocados
Juice of 1/2 lime
1 garlic clove, minced
1 Roma tomato, diced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. You will need a sharp chef's knife or paring knife, and a spoon. Slice avocadoes in half along the length. Using a spoon, remove and discard the pit. Use the knife to make 1/2 inch cuts through the flesh, diagonally left to right, then right to left. Scoop flesh of three avocados into a bowl. Reserve flesh of fourth avocado.

2. Pour lime juice over avocados, and smash until the mixture is dip-like, but still chunky. Add garlic, diced tomato and salt and pepper to taste. (I go easy on the salt because of the salty tortilla chips). Add reserved avocado flesh, gently stirring in the chunks. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve with tortilla chips.

Browning is the nemesis of all avocado preparations and I have three solutions: First of all, if you're making this dip ahead of time, place guacamole in a container that is deeper than it is wide, creating as little surface area exposure as possible, squirt some lime juice overall (remember the other half of the lime?) and place plastic wrap directly on exposed, lime-y surface, pressing into corners. Cover with lid and refrigerate.

My second tip, one I haven't tried yet, is from Bon Appetit, where they suggest cutting avocado, then rinsing in cool water. I'll experiment and report back.

My third solution, the obvious one, is to make the guacamole right before serving and to eat every last bite so there's nothing to store. No guacamole, no browning.
That's about it. What do you like in your guac? Do you have a nifty no-browning avocado solution?

 “Get Grillin’ with Family Fresh Cooking and Cookin’ Canuck, sponsored by Ile de France Cheese, Rösle, Emile Henry, Rouxbe and ManPans.”

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