Tomorrow is Cinco de Mayo, which celebrates the Mexican Army’s victory over France at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. When I first mentioned this celebration to a Mexican friend at a dinner party, he told me Mexicans don’t really celebrate Cinco de Mayo and that it was a holiday created by Corona in the eighties to sell more beer. Mexicans celebrate their Independence Day on September 16th. For us Americans, Cinco de Mayo is an excuse to drink beer, swig salty margaritas and eat delicious Mexican food. Guacamole is a staple in any kind of Mexican food situation, so here I offer my favorite recipe.
I have made this guacamole, obtained from a James Beard tribute cookbook (James Beard Celebration), for at least twenty years and it is always a hit. It is best made in a Molcajete, a mortar and pestle type device made from volcanic rock. I got mine as a present from my husband who got it at Williams Sonoma, but they can be obtained elsewhere. The pits and roughness of the black stone is what helps to grind the ingredients down. It’s amazing to watch the cilantro, serrano chilies and salt go from a fluffy pile to a pulpy, green paste. Never use your molcajete for anything except guacamole, so the flavors aren’t muddied.
This type of guacamole is similar to the one, made tableside, at restaurants like Rosa Mexicana. I would say the one downside to guacamole is that it must be made at the last minute, so it doesn’t brown. If you can’t serve it right away, squirt the top with lime juice and cover with plastic wrap. But, better yet, bring out your molcajete and make this guacamole in front of all your friends. It’s sure to impress and is a great ice-breaker. Serve with warm corn tortillas or Tortilla Chips- I like Santitas.
If you don’t have serrano chilies you can substitute with jalapeno (although I would use 2 instead of 4), but whatever you do, don’t leave out the cilantro; it is essential to the taste. For the onion, you can use yellow or red, but white onions are traditional in Mexican cooking. This recipe is from Diana Kennedy, renowned Goddess of Mexican cuisine. According to her, she doesn’t like to add lime juice as it “spoils the balance of the flavors” and specifies the guacamole should be lumpy, not smooth.
James Beard said of this recipe “I thought I had eaten guacamole before.”
Killer GuacCourse: AppetizersCuisine: Mexican
This recipe is from The Art of Mexican Cooking.
3 tablespoons finely chopped onion
4 serrano chilies, finely chopped (wear gloves)
2 rounded tablespoons finely chopped cilantro (I use more)
Sea Salt to taste
3 large avocados ( 1 1/2 pounds)
2/3 cup finely chopped unpeeled tomato
- The Topping
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
1 heaped tablespoon finely chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons finely chopped tomato
- If possible, use a molcajete. Grind the fresh chilies, cilantro and salt to a rough paste.
- Cut the avocados in half, remove pits and scoop out the flesh with a wooden spoon. Mash the flesh roughly into the base, turning the mixture over so that the seasoning is well distributed. Stir in the chopped tomato and onion and sprinkle the top of the guacamole with the extra onion, cilantro and tomato.
- Place the pits back in fro a nice effect (I don’t do this) and serve immediately, or within 15 minutes, in the molcajete.
- Makes 2 cups.