Plain and Perfect Guacamole

Over the 10 years since I perfected my guacamole recipe and won a Los Angeles-based Guac-Off, it has become nothing short of a legend in my own mind. My guacamole has been talked about (mostly by me), written about (mostly here), and copied, even by people who normally don't go around copying things. My guacamole inspired the one the trend-setting chef Nancy Silverton serves for her Mozza restaurant staff parties. But the one thing my guacamole hasn't done during that time is change. Because it's perfect in the way that only simple things can be. I learned it from my step-grandmother, a Oaxaca native living in Mexico City, who casually mashes up a molcajete of guacamole the way you or I might whisk an egg. Like: No. Big. Deal. The key word here being MASHED. The word guacamole comes from the word "molir," which means "to grind" or "to mash." It does not mean "to mince." Minced onion-and-tomoato guacamole is more like avocado pico de gallo. Where this (if I do say so myself) perfect guacamole is a creamy, integrated experience.

This recipe assumes you planned ahead, and have at least 4 perfectly ripe and ready to go avocados at the ready. And if not, you'll have some guacamole to make your Ultimate Burrito Bowl, the recipe for which you can find here in my book Bowls of Plenty, which you can find here.


Plain and Perfect Guacamole

2 to 4 serrano chiles (depending on how dangerously you live), halved and seeds removed (jalapeños work in a pinch, but given the choice, reach for the smaller, slimmer, and infinitely tastier serrano).

About 1/8 of a white (by which I do not mean yellow) onion, roughly chopped

4 ripe Hass avocados, halved, pitted, and peeled

1 or 2 limes (preferably Mexican, aka key aka California limes)

Salt (I like kosher salt or sea salt; use what you have)

To make the guac using a mini food processor, throw the onion and serranos into the bowl of your mini food processor. Sprinkle with salt and pulse the machine until you have a fairly smooth paste but nothing even resembling juice. You may want to stop and scrape down the sides of your food processor from time to time so that you don’t juice some ingredients while the others wait on the side of the bowl for their turn at the blade.

Dump half of the paste out into a bowl large enough to hold your avocados. Add the avocados, lime juice, and a generous amount of salt, and smash the avos with a fork, potato masher, or whisk until they are smashed, and integrated with the paste and salt. Add more of the paste, more lime juice, and more salt until the guac tastes exactly as you want it to. Just when you think that your guacamole is perfect, stir in a bit more salt, and serve with tortilla chips.

To make the guac using a molcajete, start by grinding the onion and salt together until you have a paste. Add the serranos and keep grinding until they are one with the onion paste. Add the avocado to the molcajete, season with a generous amount of salt and the lime juice, and use the pestle to gently mash the avo and paste together until they are integrated. (If you want to live on the safe side, take some of the paste out of the molcajete, then add the avos, and add more of the paste back if you find you want it.) Add more salt. It needs it. Really. Trust me. It does.

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