Tuesday, July 8, 2008

17. Charred Tomatillo Guacamole (p. 10)

Guacamole is one of my favorite things in the whole world. I could eat it every day for breakfast, lunch and dinner. OK, maybe that's a bit of an overstatement, but you get the point: I like the stuff.

I made this as another contribution to my family's Fourth of July cookout (see the earlier post for Creamy Slaw, and stay tuned for a post on "La Brea Tar Pit" Chicken Wings), and it was a big hit.

This is a basic guacamole recipe with a twist: the addition of roasted tomatillos.

This recipe gave me a chance to play a favorite game: Stump the Cashier. Here's how it works: look around in the produce department for something a little unusual, take it to the check-out, and wait for the fun to begin. As the cashier rings up your order, you'll hear that familiar beep, beep, beep as she scans the items at lighting speed. And then, all of a sudden, it comes to a screeching halt. The cashier's face gets all squinched up, she lifts the produce bag, usually holding it at a distance as if it smells bad, and then she says, in a half-curious, half-accusatory tone, "What's this?" Tomatillos are usually a guaranteed winner in Stump the Cashier. Other good ones are parsnips, turnips, and just about any fresh herbs. Some things that look a lot like other common items aren't quite as good for the game, such as shallots. These usually get rung up as onions without a bat of an eye.

This recipe also gave me an opportunity to use my brand new mortar and pestle, which was an anniversary present from my wife (thanks, Sweetie!). While the tomatillos were under the broiler, I mashed up the onion, chile, and cilantro, salt and pepper. Once the tomatillos were good and charred, I threw them in the mix. Finally, I put it all in a bowl, added the avocados and mashed it all up with a potato masher. If you make this in advance, like I did, be sure to cover the guacamole with plastic wrap pressed right against the surface of the guacamole, otherwise it'll discolor.

This was an excellent recipe. The guacamole has the creamy texture that we all love plus the pleasant and unexpected fire-roasted flavor and slight tang from the tomatillos.

The recipe calls for three to four serrano chiles. These little suckers rate about 10,000 to 23,000 on the Scoville Scale, which means that they're pretty darn hot! Now, The Book suggests removing the seeds from some or all of the chiles to make a milder guacamole, but even without the seeds, there's still a lot of heat in them there peppers. So, my wife and I had a debate about how many serranos I should include, but in the end, Stop and Shop made the decision for me. There was only one, single, lonely serrano in the whole store. The result was that the guacamole was pretty mild, but by no means wimpy.

My only complaint with the recipe was that it was too salty. The recipe calls for a whole teaspoon of salt, which was too much. If I make this again, and I probably will, I'll start with a half teaspoon, and then add more to taste as needed.

Date Cooked: July 4, 2008
Degree of Difficulty: Easy
Rating: A-

1 comment:

Kiki said...

I guess my reign as an award winning Guac-maker is coming to an end (I got the blue ribbon at one of Adam's work events years ago)! My secret recipe? Martha Stewart's Classic Guacamole.