People say “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach”. In my experience the way to my man’s heart was through his mother’s stomach. My Mother-In-Law is one of my favorite people. An Idaho farm girl, she is a whiz at making the homey comfort foods of her childhood. Biscuits, pies, fried chickens, and of course anything with potatoes, fill her kitchen with delicious smells and tastes. So- when I came into her life (and her kitchen) sporting the fresh, Southwest flavors I love, she was pulled way out of her comfort zone.
It was Mother’s Day and my then-fiancée and I were creating an omelet bar for his mother and her guests. As she watched me chop, toss, and mash to create the fresh ingredients that would top the omelets she was smiling politely but the fear in her eyes could not be hidden. I was shocked to learn she had never tasted real cilantro, or guacamole that had not been spooned out of a plastic tub. When she cautiously tasted my homemade guacamole it was truly “love at first bite”. She told us years later that she decided then and there I was “a keeper”. Over the years I have been able to share with her my love of fresh, ethnic ingredients and she has attempted to teach me how to perfectly lattice a pie (still working on that one); and to this day she still compares every guacamole she tastes to that first “Mother’s Day” version.
One thing I know from years of making this delicious dip is that the star of a great guacamole is a great avocado. Haas avocados have the most flavor and are considered to be the ideal choice for guacamole. Haas are available year round in the United States and are the most commonly grown variety, making up about 80% of California’s avocados harvest. When choosing an avocado rely on firmness and color. If you will not need them for a few days it’s actually best to pick hard, un-ripened, very green avocadoes. These are a very sensitive fruit despite their firm exterior, and when they soften in the store they have usually been pressed so often that they go straight from hard and flavorless to black and flavorless. They will ripen perfectly sitting on your counter undisturbed- putting them in a paper bag can speed up the process. BB hint- Mexican and Guac packs usually come with under-ripe avocados. This is ideal, they are not false-ripened by travel conditions or touchy customers; get out your brown bags and plan your menus accordingly.
Chunky or smooth, saucy or thick, spicy or mild- everyone has their own idea of the perfect guacamole and their own favorite way of using this great green condiment. (Condiment? I think in my house it could be classified as a side dish!) If you like a chunky guac this recipe from The Pioneer Woman is for you. Her method of making pico de gallo and stirring it into the mashed and seasoned avocado makes it easy- and if you double the pico you’ll end up with two yummy dips. http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2007/06/pico_de_gallo_a/
I love the flavors used in an authentic guacamole but I suppose the traditional could eventually become boring. If you are looking to liven up your taste buds, consider using your favorite basic recipe to try some of these fun twists on the classic guacamole.
• BLT- Fold in crispy bacon and finely shredded lettuce
• Cranberry- Fold in 2/3 cup dried cranberries soaked in hot water, drained, and squeezed dry
• Seaside- Fold in lumped crab meat or tiny shrimp
• Greek- Use red onion in place of traditional onion, fold in feta cheese, and kalamata olives
• Italian- Replace cilantro with basil, replace regular tomato with sun-dried tomatoes, fold in shredded parmigiano reggiano, and top with pine nuts
Early Spaniards called guacamole the “Butter of the Poor” because of its relatively low cost and the wide variety of uses it carries. Modern Americans often relegate it to a dip for chips and a topping for fajitas but there are many ways to raise guacamole’s position in the culinary world. Here are a few of my favorite ways to use it up!
• Top omelets and other egg dishes
• Replace Mayo as a spread on sandwiches and burgers
• Mix with shredded chicken and lettuce and use as a filling for tortilla wraps
• Use to top potatoes
• Use in place of dressing for salads
• Pizza- yes really http://allrecipes.com/recipe/chicken-avocado-pizza/