Who Doesn’t Like Guacamole? (But get good chips)

I make guacamole whenever I find nice, big, fat, ripe avocados. And that is the problem. Most of the time the avocados can be stand-ins for baseballs at the Little League game down the street. And most of the ripe ones are bruised because idiots (like me) are constantly squeezing them to check their ripeness. That last avocado you bought with the huge brown spot inside? That’s my thumb print. But if you find a great looking avocado, grab it. By the way, I don’t need the lecture about how avocados ripen off of the vine, and if I were only patient I could have as much ripe avocado as I want. Not true! The unripe avocados can still bruise, and when they ripen they also turn completely brown. No thanks.

1 Large, ripe avocado
1 small ripe tomato, seeded
and chopped (optional)
Juice of ½ lemon
1 shallot, minced fine
½ garlic clove, crushed or
minced fine
pinch of cayenne
pinch of salt
a few grinds of fresh black
A sprinkle of cumin

Dump everything except the avocado and tomato into a small bowl, whisk a bit just to make sure that everything is dissolved, then add the tomato and set aside until you have attacked the avocado.

Avocados are easy to prepare for guacamole since it doesn’t matter if they get a bit mashed. Slicing them into pretty discs for garnish is a different, and messier matter. Besides, anything that tastes good with a slice of avocado will probably taste better with a spoonful of this guacamole.

Cut the avocado lengthwise, just missing the stem and rotating around the fruit so the end of the cut meets the beginning on the other side. Cut through to the pit and then just rotate around the avocado. Twist gently apart and set the pitless side down. Using the middle of your knife tap the blade firmly into the middle of the pit, and then twist a few degrees to loosen it from the flesh. It should pull away easily. Then whack the handle of the knife onto the edge of the sink and watch the slippery pit pop off the blade and careen around the bottom of the sink, hopefully not smashing your expensive wine glasses.

Holding the now pitless avocado in one hand, carefully cut a grid pattern through the flesh, but not through the skin. I use a bread knife with a slightly rounded tip so I don’t gouge my hand. But you can do it with a sharp tipped knife, just be very careful. Repeat on the other half. Just pop the chunks out of the skin by turning it inside out. Sometimes some flesh will be left in the skin, but that can be dealt with quickly with a spoon. Spending a bit of time cutting the fruit this way instead of just scooping it out makes it easier to mix with the rest of the ingredients. And I feel like I am more of a professional sous chef.

Now comes the hard part: mixing everything up in a bowl. Use a fork to break up the big chunks, and mix until you reach your desired consistency (remember, you’re the one who will be eating it). Try to avoid tasting, especially if you have some really good chips. The guacamole doesn’t need any resting time or to be chilled, but one avocado does not make that much guacamole, and I can polish of an entire bowl without too much trouble. The real issue is the chips. It is imperative that you find a source for good quality tortilla chips. The mass produced ones just don’t make the grade. It is also possible, and not too difficult, to make your own tortilla chips, but that is a bit obsessive/compulsive, although hot chips fresh from the oil are hard to beat.

This recipe can be doubled or tripled or quadrupled. Whatever you want. And I like my guacamole on the lemony side, so if it’s a bit tart for your taste then cut the lemon a bit, or add some more cayenne. Whatever floats your boat.

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