Friday, January 30, 2015

Crazy Guacamole

Crazy Guacamole

So, I think the Super Bowl is this weekend. I'm not 100% sure, since I don't follow sports at all, but I've heard people talking about it. I can't tell you who's playing (other than that it will be two NFL teams), but I do know one thing: it's all about the food.

Chips and dip are an ideal snack to serve during the game, and the best such combination in my opinion is tortilla chips with guacamole.

Guacamole is one of those foods that elicits strong opinions from some people. There are those that insist that a "purist" version is the best, the kind of guacamole with as few ingredients as possible, like Diana Kennedy's classic recipe that contains just 6 ingredients: avocado, onion, tomato, cilantro, salt and serrano chiles. If this sounds like your thing, you'll love the guacamole at Rosa Mexicano, since their recipe is simple like this.

Oyamel guacamole
A bit debate among guacamole enthusiasts is whether it should contain lime juice. I'm in the "yes" camp on this. I love how it adds a bit of tang, which goes so well with the spice and salt. If this sounds like your thing, you'll love my Basic Guacamole Recipe, which is like the Kennedy/Rosa guacamole but with lime juice. Perfect!

From there, you can make things more interesting, if you want. My favorite local guacamole is what you get at Oyamel. It ups the ingredients to 8, adding crumbled queso fresco to the mix and substituting tomatillo for the tomato. I love how tomatillo gives it a nice fruity tart punch beyond just what you get with the lime juice. I have a recipe for a roasted tomatillo version that's similar to this.

My Basic Guacamole drizzled with Tabasco chipotle hot sauce and served with blue corn chips

Some other things you can do: add a little ground cumin or coriander. Use other types of citrus juice. Use other types of chiles, such as jalapeños for extra heat or chipotles for a little smoke. Or add hot sauce. You can add nuts for crunch, like this Spicy Pistachio Guacamole inspired by New York City's Empellon Cocina.

All of these are great ideas, but they're all pretty pedestrian when it comes to guacamole. Inside-the-box type stuff.

What if you want to get crazy, I mean really crazy with your guacamole.

Enter The Black Ant, the New York City East Village Mexican restaurant I raved about last week.

The Black Ant's guacamole

As I discussed, we had a fabulous dinner there last month. Everything was great, but the thing I can't stop thinking about was their guacamole. It was so good. Not just because they served it with the thick kind of corn chips I really crave for guacamole (and rarely get served), but because the chef isn't afraid to dress the guacamole up with all sorts of unusual ingredients. Of course, it starts with avocado, and had the usual tomatoes and cilantro, but from there, it included stuff like toasted corn, dried chiles, orange wedges and sliced radishes. I think there were more ingredients too. And it all worked together well with those ingredients adding complementary flavors and texture.

It's simple enough to create a guacamole like this. Just make a basic recipe and mix in whatever additional ingredients you like for additional heat, tang and texture. I picked up a 9 oz. container of the Whole Foods guacamole and mixed in a diced dried ancho chile, dried corn snack, 1/2 an orange and a sliced radish. The extra ingredients play well with the avocado and add unexpected elements like extra crunch or heat. This seems like the perfect way to add unexpected fun to a great Super Bowl spread.

Crazy Guacamole
Inspired by the guacamole at The Black Ant, New York City

Basic guacamole recipe (or good store-bought, 9 to 16 oz. such as is available at Whole Foods)
1/4 cup to 1/2 cup toasted corn snack (or other crunchy ingredients, such as nuts or chicharones)
1 ancho chile, step and seeds removed, finely chopped
1/2 orange, peeled and cut into chunks (or other citrus)
1 radish, thinly sliced
White, yellow or blue corn tortilla chips

1. Mix up a batch of basic guacamole or use good store-bought guacamole.

2. Stir in other ingredients as desired for heat, tang and/or texture.

3. Serve with tortilla chips.


Basic Guacamole

Roasted Tomatillo Guacamole

Spicy Pistachio Guacamole

Restaurant: The Blank Ant

Restaurant: Rosa Mexicano

Restaurant: Oyamel

Restaurant: Empellon Cocina

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