Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Val!'s Guacamole & Pico de Gallo

Guacamole, there are so many ways to make it!  And it is possible there is no one right way to make it - despite my probably having said the exact opposite in the past.  Maybe something along the lines of, "I make the best guacamole anyone has ever made ever!!"  

I grew up with guacamole that looked a lot like the one pictured below, except without the tomatoes.

My mom's a guacamole purist, you see, which means it'll be avocado (of course), with some garlic powder, lemon juice, and maybe a little salt for taste. 

She shakes her head ruefully when she is in the same room as me making guacamole concurrently.  
(Did you catch all that rhyming? Wow!) 
That is how dichotomous our guacamoles are.

Brief backstory:

I grew up hating avocados. That's actually how I memorized the French word for lawyer - "avocat" - it also means avocado.  Pretty easy if you hate both, right? (Well, I don't hate lawyers, but you know, growing up, there are jokes...*coughs*)

You'll never be put on the side again!
But somewhere along the line, let's say, at a restaurant called Trudy's Texas Star in Austin when I was 21ish, I ordered a plate of chipotle chicken that came with avocados on the top. My then-boyfriend loved avocados so I got them "on the side" for him to eat.  By the time he arrived (I was having lunch with a friend and he was running late) I'd already tasted them and - lo and behold - fell in love! He had to order his own side of avocados that day ;)

A few years later I was working in Houston and had made a friend who loved to BBQ, make guacamole, and listen to jazz.  He put a couple deseeded serranos ('careful, they're hot') in his guacamole, changing the way I would view that dish forever! I am eternally grateful.

I make my guac in different ways depending, mainly, on who I'm making it for.  But if I'm making it for myself, Theron, and my sister Vanessa... it pretty much gets made like this.

Pico de Gallo & Guacamole

Since I make pico & guac at the same time, I always start out slicing the tomatoes first.
This usually takes 2 moderately sized tomatoes, but we lucked out the other night and had a huge one fresh from a friends garden to use!

Then turn them around and slice them the other way, so it's super easy to dice them.

See? All diced up without much effort.  IE: I am not quick with the blade,
(handy with the steel if ya know what I mean) so I have a work-around.

Then the tomatoes get put in their separate dishes.
The one on the left is for pico, the one on the right is for guac.
 (My mother is crying as she reads this.)

Next up: Peppers. 
Despite what my friend back in Houston said, I love the heat and spice of serranos and jalapenos, though jalapenos can often be less spicy, but they have such a familiar flavor, that we try to always use both.

Do I attempt to score and dice them like practically all other fruits & veggies? You bet!

Happy Work!
(And yes, this is the same night as we made scones!)

This is as much as I dice them. It works for us!
(Feel free to deseed and also rid the membranes from the peppers if that is too hot for ya!)

Then the jalapenos and serranos get added to the pico mixture...

But just the not-as-hot jalapenos get added to the guac mixture.

Add salt to the pico mixture but not to the guac one at this time.
(I add salt to the pico as I go so it tastes just right).

Meanwhile, my husband has rinsed the cilantro.

He is the best cilantro chopper - Evarrr!

Just look at him go!

See what I'm saying. That cilantro is minced!

Add as much as you like to both your bowls. My mom, not being a huge fan of cilantro, is now recoiling at the idea of putting it in guacamole, let alone so much of it in the pico de gallo (the dish to the left)... 

("I don't dislike cilantro, I just don't like it when people use too much to where it's all I can taste. For me, pico is all about the perfect balance of flavors." - Mom addendum)

Theron's 2nd task - chop the onion.
(Does that sound like a kung fu move to anyone else?)

Chop chop chop it goes - half a large white onion.

Then ...as you probably guessed...

The onion, too, gets added to both dishes.

I put more salt in the pico.. Mix it up... Taste it.. Taste it again... Ok just one more taste... Yep just right!
Into the fridge it goes where it sits for as long as possible so all the flavors mix.

Some people put lemon juice in their pico, but I have never gotten that down to where it tastes right to me, so I just don't.  And I like it the way I make it anyway, so ^-^

Time to finish the Guacamole!

It's OK to Love the Avocado!
Now it's time for the subtle distinctions that truly make an enormous difference.

I cut the avocado open lengthwise, and deseed simply by slamming my knife into the center of said seed.

We love these big avocados - this is at least half again the size of so many, and extremely tasty.

Same as with the tomatoes, I slice it up both ways.

Like so...

And remove with a tablespoon. So easy!

I used to mash it in the bowl, but now I just smash it up on my cutting board and add it into the bowl after.

Mix it all up together!

Now you can add salt to taste...

And garlic powder - but just a little!  Be Careful!
Because it's easy to add too much garlic powder and then you've ruined it.

Also, you can add lemon juice at this point to keep the avocado from browning, or just because you like it.
 I prefer not to because by this point it's really become it's own thing. 
A delicious thing, that is.  

The awesome thing about pico and guac is how versatile they are. Meaning - you can eat them just as they are, with chips, on tacos, fajitas, a bizarre-beef-stew with beans and lettuce (aka what we had them on the other night), etc.  

How do you love your guacamole and pico?
To finish up this post, I am leaving you with a pretty picture of the much-loved Guacamole...
A picture I pilfered from the web... because... Why not?

Val!'s Guac (and pico) recipe:

Pico & Guac:
- each get about half (pico gets more) of 1 huge or 2 medium sized tomatoes
- each gets 1-2 jalapenos, Pico gets 1-2 serranos as well.
- each gets half of a half large white onion (again, pico gets more)
- each gets some cilantro (to your liking)
- (lemon juice if you so choose) 

add salt, stir, set in fridge so the flavors coalesce 

- add in one large avocado, mashed to hell n back, mix together
- add salt to taste
- add garlic powder (but not too much!)

Hasta Luego! 


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