For so long, I refused to share the secrets of my guacamole success. How selfish. How insecure. How short-sighted.
When the 2008 guacamole season opened, I finally realized just how ugly my secrecy had become. So I decided to listen to all the repeated calls for my guacamole recipe. I decided that, rather than horde my power, I should “open-source” it to the world. On Aug. 1, I would give the world Guacamole Gregorio.
And so here we are. The day has come.
And with that, some things to consider.
First, great guacamole is so much more than a tablespoon of this and dash of that. It’s about the total experience. So this is how I approach my guacamole, and I think it’s one reason I have won my share of guacamole showdowns. In other words, have faith.
No. 1, if you want to achieve guacamole greatness, you need a phenomenal supporting cast. Think of the great legends in sport and the arts. Each has had phenomenal support to help them achieve greatness — Raiders quarterback Rich Gannon had future Hall of Fame receivers Tim Brown and Jerry Rice, for instance, and in the seminal comedy, Old School, actor Luke Wilson benefited greatly from the supporting efforts of Will Ferrell and Vince Vaughn.
So, in the context of your guacamole, it, too, needs great support. First, you need an ample supply of ice-cold Tecate. The Mexican beer (along with some great Latin jazz, which we will discuss in a minute) will not only put you in the right mood as you prepare your guacamole, but also amplify the nuances of sublime guac. Also, you need the highest-grade tortilla chip possible. Mass-produced, wafer-thin chips from Illinois? Um, no. A bag of thick, slightly salted, authentic tortilla chips? Absolutely essential. I recommend Casa Sanchez, which puts out a phenomenal bag of thick chips.
Next, the music. … Since we’re talking about a Mexican dish, I suggest Latin jazz. Specifically, plan your first outing with Guacamole Gregorio for Sunday afternoon/evening (or any Sunday), which is when Latin-jazz aficionado Jesse Chuy Varela airs his world-class Latin Jazz radio program from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m, California time. The best thing is, regardless of where you live, you can join us Sunday via KCSM’s live web streaming site.
With Tecate, great chips and Varella’s commercial-free Latin jazz, you’re ready to make guacamole.
So with that, let’s roll …
Avocados — I can’t emphasize enough the criticality of avocado selection. In short, be prepared to spend some time searching for the right avocados. Feel them. Squeeze them. Tickle them. … What is your criteria, you ask? They should be pretty damn soft. Not gooey-soft, but pretty soft nonetheless. Smell them. Is the aroma ripe and rich, or acidic? Go for the ripe and rich aroma. If you can’t find one that is ripe and soft, take a few and let them sit on your window sill for a few days. … When the moment comes to make your guacamole, remove the skins and the pits, dump the green meat into a bowl and mash them. .. Take a sip of Tecate. … With the Latin jazz popping in the background, dance-walk to retrieve your next item.
Red onion — The red onion is essential. It provides balance, and a sweet kick. It’s a matter of how much you use, but I go with about a handful of finely diced red onions and chuck them into the bowl. I also keep a mound of additional diced red onions for taste adjustment at the end of the process, if needed.
Cilantro — Beware: too much cilantro can send your guacamole over the cliff. It’s happened to me too many times. So use it with restraint. Dice up about a tablespoon of the stems (yes, the stems) and then add a handful of the leaves. Remember, it is best to error on the side of restraint rather than abundance.
Garlic salt — Don’t use garlic powder. Garlic salt adds a sharpness to the guacamole that the powder never will. I use about two teaspoons of garlic salt, but it will again depend on your tastes and sensibilities.
Cumin — Cumin is an essential component of Guacamole Gregorio, but it can ruin your batch if you use too much of it. So sprinkle a very small amount onto the palm of your hand, spread it out with your other hand and release it evenly into the bowl, then mix it up thoroughly. Better to start with less and add more to taste, if needed.
Vegetable oil — A tablespoon of vegetable oil lends additional polish to the texture.
Lemon — I don’t use limes. I find that the lemon juice provides a better balance without the bitterness of the lime. Don’t go overboard. Too much lemon juice will overtake your guacamole.
Noticing a theme here? I hope so. The point is that Guacamole Gregorio is comprised of an assortment of hair-trigger ingredients. At any moment, and with little provocation, one of them can explode in your face and taint your batch. But working in concert together — at the right moment, with friends and family waiting nearby for the first taste, the Latin jazz blaring, a can of Tecate perspiring — these ingredients can combine to create magic.
Here’s hoping you find it.