There's no better way to
begin a south of the border fiesta than with a great tasting guacamole for an
hors d'oeuvre. Plus, guacamole is great from a cook's point of view
because it's easy to make, easy to serve, and is sure to be a crowd pleaser.
At the same time, The Motley Monk believes there are some important cooking lessons to be gleaned from preparing a very good guacamole.
The first lesson is learning when avocados are "ripe," that is, ready for use.
Chefs appear unanimous in this regard: avocados are ripe when the skin is a very dark, almost brownish hue of green...sort of a "moldy green" color. In addition, The Motley Monk suggests applying just a little bit of pressure with the fingers to each avocado's skin. The skin should feel somewhat pliable as the avocado's oils and fruit respond to the touch because they are soft but not mushy. An overripe avocado works fine, but the guacamole will not have the kind of texture which The Motley Monk believes makes for a very good guacamole.
The second lesson concerning how to open an avocado.
The Motley Monk uses a Santoku knife, cutting along one side of the avocado (from top to bottom) and around the other side (from bottom to top). Then, a simple twist of the top and the bottom halves pops the avocado open. One half will be holding the pit.
The third lesson is how to deal with the avocado's flesh.
The Motley Monk uses the tablespoon to remove the flesh from the half that does not have the pit, first. Just run the tablespoon between the outer skin and the flesh and all of the flesh will easily come out. Place it into a medium-sized mixing bowl. Then, remove the pit and place it into the skin of the now-emptied half of the avocado. Repeat this process with each avocado.
Because The Motley Monk's recipe for making guacamole requires using a minimum of three avocados, he stacks the cleaned skins one upon the other, using one skin to collect the pits. This makes clean up easier, especially because the avocado's oils make the pits and skins somewhat slippery.
The fourth lesson involves deciding how to remove the pit.
Chefs are not unanimous in this regard. In so far as The Motley Monk is concerned, everything hinges upon how ripe each avocado is.
For example, Ina Garten uses the knife to remove the pit. Simply take a hack at the pit, turn the knife a bit, et voíla, the pit is removed. This technique works well, unless an avocado is overly ripe.
The Motley Monk doesn't like this method because he doesn't like to take the chance of damaging a knife. Instead, The Motley Monk uses a tablespoon to remove the pit. Simply insert the spoon where the pit meets the flesh and turn the avocado half around the spoon et voíla, the pit pops out. As noted above, place the pit into the skin of the first half of the avocado which has been cleaned out.
The fifth lesson concerns how to prepare the avocado flesh for the guacamole.
Removing the avocado flesh is simple: use the tablespoon used to remove the pit. But, for a very good guacamole, The Motley Monk believes there is only one way to prepare the avocado flesh: use a potato masher or ricer. A smooth guacamole, where the avocado flesh has been beaten to death may not taste different, but it has a very different texture. A potato masher or ricer produces some mashed avocado flesh as well as some chunks of avocado flesh. This mixture of the two textures—smooth and chunky—The Motley Monk believes, makes one of two important contributions that produce a very good guacamole.
The sixth lesson is to ensure that the guacamole will not turn brown.
For some chemical reason The Motley Monk doesn't know, avocado flesh turns brown rather quickly if acid is not added to it. In this regard, The Motley Monk once again splits with Ina Garten concerning the best acid to add. The Barefoot Contessa uses fresh lemon juice which, The Motley Monk believes, produces a good guacamole which doesn't turn brown. However, The Motley Monk uses fresh lime juice which, he believes produces a very good guacamole which doesn't turn brown but has the advantage of producing a superior flavor that also happens to complement the lime Margarita's that will be served alongside the guacamole.
The sixth lesson is to fold the ingredients.
The Motley Monk
suggests folding in the lime juice first to ensure the avocado flesh has no
chance to turn brown. Add the remaining ingredients and fold everything
into the avocado flesh and lime juice. The purpose for folding the
ingredients is to give the guacamole a "chunky" texture which, The Motley
Monk believes, adds to the overall flavor which differentiates The Motley
Monk's very good guacamole from other good guacamoles.
Like the idea? Here's the recipe:
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