To celebrate Cinco de Mayo, Alex Pardo, chef and part owner of Jalepenos Mexican Restaurant in Gloucester shares his grandmother's recipe for guacamole. You can't go wrong with a good guacamole; it's easy to prepare, it's ready in minutes and it's a real crowd pleaser.
Guacamole, or ahuaca-molli as it was then known, originated with the Aztecs in Mexico; ahuaca means avocado and molli means sauce. In those days it was simply avocado mashed and seasoned with salt, but with the arrival of the Spanish in the 1500s other ingredients, such as onions and tomato, were added and over the years it has continued to develop into the more complex sauce we know today.
The Oxford Companion to American Food and Drink explains that guacamole "became popular in the America during the late 19th century, consumed as a salad. During the 1930s, Calavo, the California Association of Avocado Growers, began publishing pamphlets that included directions for making guacamole. Subsequent recipes encouraged the use of pieces of tortilla to scoop up the dip. So it was, in fact, Americans who came up with guacamole's contemporary use as a dip.
Guacamole became more prominent in the 1960s with "the commercial production of larger and thicker corn chips ... and the adoption of this combination in Mexican-style restaurants in the United States." It was also in the 1960s that Cavalo created the first commercial guacamole which was sold to restaurants and in grocery stores. The growing consumption of avocados in the U.S. can be partially attributed to the growing popularity of guacamole. In 2002, the U.S. produced 225,000 tons of avocado and was the second largest avocado producer worldwide after Mexico.
Pardo's recipe uses avocado, onion and tomato, as well as cilantro, lime and Serrano peppers for heat. First he mashes the avocado in a bowl with a fork; "When you're doing this you never want to put the other ingredients in before" explains Pardo. This is because the juices from the peppers will run and it will make the tomato very mushy; "you want to have a nice firm tomato in your avocado" he says.
When Pardo has a smooth and creamy paste of avocado, he adds the other ingredients and seasons with salt and pepper. He explains that you should adjust the amount of Serrano pepper according to your tolerance for chili; "it depends how much you like. Now, I really like things spicy so I am going to put all of these Serrano peppers in. I hope my company will enjoy it too."
These days guacamole is used in many dishes, such as burritos, tacos and nachos, but most commonly as a dip with chips. This is how Pardo chooses to serve his guacamole. He has a taste and is pleased with the result: "Yep, I think that this is something that my grandmother would be very proud of."
1/2 roman tomato, diced
1/4 white onion, diced
1/2 cup of fresh cilantro, chopped
1 teaspoon of fresh Serrano pepper, diced
Juice of 1 fresh lime
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Cut avocado in half, remove pit and scoop flesh into a mixing bowl.
2. Work the avocado flesh with a fork until well mashed.
3. Add lime juice to the mashed avocado flesh.
4. Add cilantro, tomato, onion and pepper. Fold the ingredients into the avocado, being careful not to mash the tomatoes and other ingredients.
5. Salt and pepper to taste.
Enjoy as a dip with some fresh corn tortilla chips or on a salad, as a sandwich spread, with eggs or on baked potatoes.
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Recipe courtesy of Alex Pardo, Jalapenos Restaurant, 2012.