While having a conversation with the lovely Heidi Beth of New York recently, we both reveled in our intense love of Mexican food. More specifically, we both adore Mexican, South American, or Caribbean food. I know it’s not all the same by a long shot, but for me it falls into one category: sunshine and happiness in the form of food.
This is the one food genre that I will NEVER get tired of. There’s something so wonderful about food that is so freshly flavorful and spicy that I just cannot resist. For me, there are four basic parts to the perfect meal in this category: good chips, lovingly seasoned black beans, tasty fish, and the PERFECT guacamole.
To me, guacamole is something of an art form. How do you get the right combination of every ingredient to give your avocados the perfect spicy and smokey yet fresh authentic flavor? There is for sure an element of trial and error on anyone’s part when they are making guacamole. My bit of seasoning might be a pinch for you and a spoonful for me. But I would like to throw out the winning combination that Ben and I discovered. However, there IS always room for improvement with the guac. It literally gets better every time we make it in my house!
Ben and Morgan’s Guac
2 large avocados
1.5 tsp Cumin
10 sprigs cilantro
Texas Pete or Authentic Caribbean hot sauce (We prefer Bajan hot pepper sauce from Barbados)
Salt and Pepper
1 tsp lemon juice
2 roma tomatoes
1 small section of an onion (preferably vidalia)
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp Tajin seasoning
As you can imagine, making this is pretty easy and self explanatory. Scoop your avocados into the bowl. I do this by cutting them in half and then using a large spoon. They should come out perfectly if they are ripe.
Doing it this way prevents your avocados from getting mashed too early. I like to wait until everything is added to start mashing up the avocados so that I don’t over do it. I like for there to still be a little chunk to the mix. Before your next step, go ahead and add the lemon juice to the avocados. This will keep them from turning brown while you chop if you haven’t already taken care of that step. Next dice up your tomato and onion into the mix.
When adding your cilantro you have two options. You can a) remove the leaves from the stems and chop those up to add to the guac and discard the stems. This is probably the way most people do it, but it’s very frustrating because you have to pick the leaves off the stems and then attempt to finely chop them while they stick to the cutting board.
In my opinion, solution B is much easier and more flavorful: after washing your cilantro, hold the 10 stems tightly and cut finely with kitchen scissors directly into the guacamole. See? Much less time consuming.
Next, add your garlic powder, cumin, tajin, and salt and pepper. For salt and pepper, try to use freshly ground; this part of the recipe is entirely up to the decisions of your taste buds but I’d start off with four grinds of each.
For us, the cumin is the secret ingredient that really kick starts the guac and interacts wonderfully with the fresh flavors of lime and cilantro. You can of course add more than the amounts in this recipe. The ones I have listed are just good starting points so that you can figure out the perfect amount for you and whoever you’re cooking for.
Next, add a dash or two of hot sauce. This is a good substitute for jalapenos, but I’ve actually found that since I like my guac to have subtle spice but no real bite, I prefer sauce over fresh jalapenos. Not to mention ever since some friends from Barbados brought us some of this Bajan Red Hot Pepper Sauce, we haven’t stopped using it once. It’s incredibly spicy but the flavor mixes so well with the other ingredients. It’s phenomenal!
Mash your guac together making sure everything is fully incorporated: you want a mix of flavors, not a couple of individually good ones. Now cut your lime in half and squeeze the juice onto the guac. Stir and add the rest, then stir again. Serve with a slice of lime and a couple cilantro leaves on top. Voila, guacamole, the nectar of the gods.