For most of our lives, we’re led to believe that all of the main courses, side dishes, brunch spreads, pies, everything we rotate through (or half-heartedly attempt) in our own personal kitchens, will inevitably taste better, fresher, smoother, flakier, etc., when eaten in a restaurant.
And for certain foods, this definitely holds true. Dumplings taste better when I’m picking them up in plastic containers from Star of Siam. Cheese will never melt the right way on burgers unless Au Cheval is making them for me. And, honestly, you can’t tell me that your great aunt makes breadsticks better than the fine folks at Olive Garden.
But there’s one thing that, no matter how many restaurant versions I’ve tried, couldn’t even beat my version in the easiest of Mario Kart race tracks.
When Chipotle’s is laced with an exorbitant amount of lime, De Cero’s teeters on the edge of too hot, and every place else operates under the impression that cilantro deserves as much real estate as the avocados, it’s time to strike out on your own.
No, you don’t need a ceramic Crate and Barrel mortar/pestle set and no, you don’t even need to dump ten bones on one of those (fascinating, smart, sexy) 3-in-1 avocado slicers.
Just some produce and a dream.
The Only Guacamole Recipe You’ll Ever Need
2 ripe avocados (1 or 1.5, if they’re gargantuan like the ones from City Fresh)
3 tbsp chopped onion (red or yellow)
1 tsp minced garlic
1-2 tsp lemon juice
1 small tomato, diced
Salt and pepper to taste
So basic, yet so beautiful. Start with perfect avocados (so perfect that they sing, dance and star in their own TV spots.)
A ripe avocado has three crucial character traits:
1) Dark green, almost brown skin
2) A stem that’s still bright and yellow-hued (not charred looking)
3) Soft to the squeeze (more like a banana and less like an apple)
Cut the fruit the only way I know how: holding the avocado upright in one hand and a knife in the other, insert the knife vertically until it hits the pit. Rotate the avocado (not the knife, don’t be a fool) around until you’ve sliced a 360° cut. Hold each side of the fruit with two hands and twist in opposite directions.
Don’t try to trick the system and “scoop” the pit out with a spoon or your spry little fingers. You’ll fail. It’ll be a mess. It will look like aliens gave birth on your countertop. Instead, take a sturdy knife and tap it into the pit (until it’s pretty locked in.) You should be able to twist the avocado half right off of the knife/pit.
Breathe easy. That was the only stressful step and it’s over. Have an Oreo if you need to take a minute.
Now scoop out those bright green guts and get to work. I typically add the lemon juice (or lime) first because by some act of chemistry I know nothing about, the acid prevents the avocado from browning.
Mix in everything else. Stir in salt 1 tsp at a time and lick the spoon as you go to avoid a sodium OD/find the right balance. But, as Ina Gartner told me, avocados are pretty bland on their own. They deserve a little tenderness. On that same note, don’t over mix. Like peanut butter, guac is best when it’s still rugged and chunky and au naturel.
Once acid, salt, pepper and garlic levels are to your liking, let that baby chill for at least 15 minutes. Nothing’s worse than warm guacamole. Except maybe losing in Mario Kart.