Mexico–One Plate at a Time/

A Master Class in Guacamoles

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Ingredients

  • 1large fresh serrano or 1 small fresh jalapeño chile
  • 1small ripe tomato OR ¼ cup soft, sundried tomatoes
  • A smallhandful of cilantro
  • 1/2small white onion
  • 3ripe avocados
  • Atablespoon or two of fresh-squeezed lime juice
  • About 1teaspoon salt

Instructions

That’s plural because there are many guacamoles in the Frontera world.  We’ve always offered a really classic guacamole, of course, and it’s made with fresh local tomatoes during our season, with sundrieds the rest of the year.  We offer monthly-changing modern guacamoles too (many have inspired the recipes that follow).  And there are the utterly naked guacamoles made from lightly seasoned mashed avocado, the kind of guacamole that becomes a delicious component we use when composing plates of empanaditas, flautas or the like

No matter what flavor guacamole you’re making, it’s really all about the avocado.  And the avocado is one of the most stubborn vegetables (a fruit, really, according to the botanists).  It takes a year to mature on the tree, it won’t ripen until picked (but thankfully it can be cooled and held in an unripe state for a number of months), it’s sensitive to temperatures that are too low or high, it bruises easily, and it takes week or so to ripen from hard to creamy-soft.  No ripening contraptions or simple paper bags will hurry that avocado’s ripening along at any truly useful rate.

Yet, an unblemished, buttery-ripe avocado can be a breathtaking wonder. And if yours has been coddled in its cardboard cradle from field to kitchen, if it hasn’t been held in its unripe state below about 50 degrees or allowed to get hotter than, say, 75 as it’s ripening, and if it hasn’t been gassed with a blast of ethylene to rush its softening—it will perfect experience.  Especially if it’s been picked fully mature (oil-rich) from the volcanic soil around Uruapan, Michoacan, the avocado capital of the world. Those are the avocados we use in Frontera, and we manage their journey from field to packing house to ripening room to restaurant kitchen. That’s why folks like our guacamole so much:  we use great avocados and we ensure that they’re treated right.

Turning good avocados into about 3 cups of Classic Guacamole is easy, though it requires some restraint. First, prep the vegetables, mixing them together in a bowl:  Stem and finely chop 1 large fresh serrano or 1 small fresh jalapeño chile (you can split the chile lengthwise and cut out the seeds and veins for a less-spicy, more refined texture, though I rarely do). Chop 1 small ripe tomato into ¼-inch bits (to ensure they won’t soften the avocado with too much moisture, we let the tomato drain for a few minutes in a strainer); OR finely chop ¼ cup soft, sundried tomatoes (the ones that have the texture of a dried apricot). Twist off a small handful of cilantro (where the leaves begin) and, holding it tightly bunched, thinly slice across the leaves and tender upper stems. Finely dice 1/2 of a small white onion, scoop into a strainer and run under cold water for 30 seconds or so to “deflame” it; shake off the excess water and measure 1/3 cup.

In a large bowl, coarsely mash the flesh of 3 ripe avocados (together they should weigh 1 to 1 ¼ pounds before they’re cut): cut the avocados in half around the pit from top to bottom and back up again, twist the halves in opposite directions, pull them apart, scoop out the pits, scoop the flesh from each half). The mashing implement is important: to create thick, “meaty” guacamole, use a large fork or old-fashioned potato or bean masher—we use a large potato masher at Frontera. Gently stir in the vegetables, remembering that you don’t have to use them all if it looks like they’re going to take focus away from the avocado. Taste what you have, then start the restrained addition of lime:  it usually takes a tablespoon or two of fresh-squeezed lime juice to heighten the avocado flavor without screaming “lime juice!” I can assure you that it’ll take about 1 teaspoon saltto harmonize the avocado with the other flavors—any less will leave the avocado flavor wandering in the wilderness.

Aside from our Classic Guacamole, though, the guacamole we rely on the most is flavored with Roasted Tomatillo Salsa.  To make about 3 cups of Tomatillo Guacamole, I coarsely mash the flesh of 3 ripe avocados (cut the avocados in half around the pit, twist the halves in opposite directions, pull apart, scoop out the pit, scoop the flesh from each half), then I gently stir in 1 cup of the Roasted Tomatillo Salsa.  Taste the mixture and season with additional salt, usually a generous ½ teaspoon. It’s as simple as that to make this guacamole (we typically call it “guacamole verde” because of its all-green color), one that’s a little more deliciously tangy than what most people are used to (it’s got all those tomatillos, after all) and one that is considerably more intriguing, even captivating.  It may become your signature guacamole.

 

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

8 (4 medium) tomatillos, husked and rinsed
1 large fresh serrano or 1 small jalapeño chile
1 large garlic clove, unpeeled
½ small white onion, finely chopped
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
Salt

Roast the tomatillos on a rimmed baking sheet about 4 inches below a preheated broiler until they’re soft and blotchy black on one side, about 5 minutes, then flip them over and roast the other side.  In a small dry skillet over medium heat, roast the garlic and green chile, turning them regularly until soft and dark in spot, about 8 minutes for the chile, 15 minutes for the garlic.  Cool everything, slip the papery skin off the garlic, then combine tomatillos, chile and garlic in a blender.  Process to a coarse puree.  Pour into a measuring cup.

Scoop the chopped onion into a strainer, rinse under cold water, shake off the excess, then measure 1/3 cup.  Add the onion to the tomatillo mixture along with the cilantro.  Stir to combine, then taste and season with salt, usually a generous ½ teaspoon. To serve this salsa as a condiment or chip dip, you’ll probably want to stir in a little water to loosen the texture.  For seasoning guacamole, it’s good as is.

 

 

Comments

  1. I have been wanting to make queso fresco but don’t see recipe. I had a recipe that my late sister an I made but can’t find. It was very simple an sad to say it’s lost. Senor Rick, can you help? ?
    Thank you..

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