As time goes by, each of us develops a personality and a reputation. It can be shocking how far apart those two are. For example, I have a refined and superior sense of humor. But no one, not a single soul, in my family thinks so. How I could be associated, by blood or marriage, with so many people who …
There is one thing for which I have earned, fairly, fame. My guacamole. It’s simply the best. For a party with 10 people last week, we were asked to bring dessert, bread, and guacamole. Dessert, an incredible pie by Suzen, will be blogged tomorrow. Today, it’s my guac.
Making guac for that many people actually demands a little thought. You don’t really just scale up. Some changes are needed from my recipe for just two people. How do you do ten people? What changes make sense? And how can you add a party flair to your creation.
First, some rules of thumb:
- You want a half to one avocado per person
- One small to medium lime per avocado
- You want pickled jalapenos, both whole ones and those advertised as sweet or candied slices
- You need one bunch of cilantro for every 4 avocados
- One small red onion for every two avocados
- And, lastly, one peeled clove of garlic for every two avocados
What don’t I use anymore:
- Bottled lemon or lime juice [that’s a pathway to hell!
- Chili powders or cumin
Everything needs to be fresh.
Two final notes, how big should the avocados be? Ideally, the size of medium fist. Not those smallish ones the size of a big lemon, because they are too small and you’ll need a gazillion of them.. And not any of those “big” ones the size of World War II hand grenade. Why not? The flavor and texture do actually resemble a hand grenade. Secondly, how ripe? You want perfectly ripe: not so hard it is a chore to peel nor so soft that you can literally mash the avocado in your hand. In the first case, the avocado is not ripe enough and will lack flavor. In the too soft case, the flavor is just plain yucky.
The party flair? Divide the avocados into two groups. The first ones you mash along with the onion and garlic. The holdbacks you simply slice and stir in to get a lovely chunky texture.
Normally I only used candied jalapeno slices. For this volume, though, I do like a little extra heat. So, I call for using regular pickled jalapenos. That give you spark and heat. If you used, for example, just cumin powder you would get a much more subdued flavor with afternotes that I feel detract and distract from the lovely avocados.
Crunchy Guacamole for Ten
Yield: adequate for 8-12 people
- 3 peeled garlic cloves
- 6 limes
- 3 whole pickled jalapenos + the juice in the jar
- ¾ cup of pickled sweet or candied jalapeno slices [look in a Mexican market or on line] + the juice in the jar
- 2 small red onions
- 6 fist-sized avocados at peak ripeness
- Salt to taste
- 2 bunches of cilantro
Finely dice the garlic cloves and place in the bottom of metal bowl. Juice one lime and put the juice over the garlic. Set aside.
Take the whole jalapenos and slice sideways. Scrape away the seeds if you wish or keep the seeds if you are brave, lazy or both. Repeat with the sweetened slices. Add the two to the garlic. Put about ½ cup of liquid from the two jalapeno jars into the bowl. You can mix and match from the jars. I prefer using the thicker, more interesting juice that comes from the sweetened jalapenos.
Carefully dice the onion and add to the bowl. Juice two more limes and add to the bowl.
Using a pastry cutter, carefully mash up the garlic, jalapeno slices and onion. You are not seeking to create anything like a uniform mixture. You are just cutting through the ingredients to release and mix flavors.
Take four of avocados. One at a time, take off the peel and halve them. Remove the stone, saving at least one stone to put on top of the guac to prevent browning — yes, it really works. Put each of the two avocado halves on a cutting board, round side up. Using a very sharp knife, make lengthwise slices ¼ inch apart. Repeat sideways so you have a checkerboard pattern of cuts. Transfer the avocado to the bowl and immediately stir into the mixture. You want it covered with fluid to prevent that ugly browning.
Repeat with the three other avocados. Now, take that pastry cutter and work around in the bowl mashing the avocado. All the ¼ by ¼ inch chunks from your cutting should be gone.
Take the last two avocadoes, again halve them, cut them and add them to the bowl. Do not mash. Simply stir to mix.
Add salt to taste. More lime juice to taste. More jalapeno pickling juice to taste. You have great power here. Just remember, you cannot un-juice.
Finally, take one bunch of cilantro — about 1 cup in volume — and dice both leaves and stems. Add to the bowl and stir to mix. Taste and, if you desire, add more cilantro.
On Saturday Suzen informed me that by using 2 full bunches of cilantro, I had overdone it. Again. It’s a matter of personal preference and the flavor intensity of the cilantro. It’s best to confirm with our spouse before adding too much. Or so I was told.
Photo Credits: Canon T2i, 18-55mm lens at F/5.0, 1/80th and 1/60th second at ISO 2500 and 2000 respectively [no flash]
In his new book Bread Nick Malgieri offers this recipe for onion marmalade. How to use it? Nick suggests making grilled cheese sandwiches. Or, as a topping for his focaccia. Suzen is experimenting with adding this intense flavor to her salad vinaigrettes. You could use this to top off your burger, or have it on the side when enjoying chicken blackened on your barbeque.
It’s easy to make, just sitting on your stove as the onions edge toward caramel. And you are surge to fashion your own favorite ways to cook with and enjoy.
Nick created this recipe after tasting a version made with red wine, not vinegar. He prefers the vinegar and you may, too. You can try the wine version and experiment with other vinegars to perfect your own personal “family” version.
Yield: one cup+
- 2 pounds large white onions or sweet onions such as Vidalia
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
Peel, halve, and then thinly slice the onion from stem to root end.
Put the oil in a large Dutch oven and add the onion and the salt. Stir to coat the onions with the oil, turn the heat to medium, and wait until the onions start to sizzle. Decrease the heat to very low and cook the onions until they are wilted, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Continue cooking, stirring more often as the onions reduce tin volume, until they are very soft and light caramel color, a total of about 1 ½ hours. Off the heat, stir in the vinegar and taste for seasoning. Adjust with more salt or vinegar if you like. Cool and pack into a clear plastic container. The marmalade can be stored for up two weeks in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before use to maximize the flavor experience.