I encourage everyone I know to check out Gilt Taste. It is a division of the fantastic Gilt Group, and you will find special deals on gourmet food products and wine, stories from the MOST talented food writers, and really ridiculous recipes. A fabulous feature is the “How to Make a Better…” by Gourmet Magazine veteran Ruch Reichl, where she leads you through her tirelessly tested methods of preparation for roast chicken, poundcake, scrambled eggs…. You name it. The talented and saucy Francis Lam is also a favorite of mine, for many reasons, but this dish is near the top. You will notice that this recipe below is uncharacteristically lengthy for a guacamole recipe. This is for two reasons:
1) Lam’s witty commentary and suggestions are too good to cut out
2) This is not your typical guacamole.
Avocados are a thing of beauty in their own right (Lam informs me that the Chinese fittingly refer to avocados as “butter fruit”). Laced with a punchy, tart salsa verde made of smoky tomatillos and chile peppers makes them even better. This takes a few minutes to throw together, but the result is a guacamole so complex and delicious that you’ll come back to it over and over again.
This is serious stuff.
FIRE- ROASTED GUACAMOLE
By: Francis Lam – Gilt Taste
6 ounces tomatillos (about 4 medium-sized ones)
3 jalapenos (If you like it hotter, use more, or use a chile with more kick)
1 ounce onion, chopped (about ¼ cup)
1 fistful cilantro leaves (about 1 cup, very loosely packed), plus more for garnish
5 cloves garlic, minced
4 teaspoons olive oil
5 medium, really ripe avocados (I prefer Hass)
Salt, to taste
If your tomatillos are still in their papery husks, unhusk them, pop off the stem, and rinse in water to get that gummy stuff off. Dry them. You can do the responsible thing and set them high under a broiler for a few minutes to char the top, flip them, then char the other side, but you know and I know what you really want to do: Fire up the stove, get a pair of tongs or long skewer, and roast them like the marshmallows of the vegetable world. You’re not really looking to turn them into naughty-boy lumps of coal, but burn them until they’re evenly blackened all over. Set them in the bowl of a food processor.
Char the chile peppers the same way, and let them cool enough so you can handle them. Trim off the stem end, open them up, and cut out the seeds and ribs. (If you like more heat, you can keep them in.) Chop the peppers reasonably fine and add to the food processor.
Add onion, cilantro, the juice of 1 lime, and a generous pinch of salt to the tomatillos and peppers in the food processor and pulse until it’s basically a liquid. Taste, and add more salt if necessary to make it savory and balance the sourness somewhat.
In a small pan, heat the garlic and oil over medium heat. Swirl it a bit, and smell the goodness. When it turns slightly golden, swirl constantly until the garlic is a rich golden brown (but not, you know, brown-brown). Stir it into the tomatillo puree until the oil incorporates. (At this point, you’ll have a delicious salsa, which you can use on its own.)
Split the avocados: Slice into the fruit with your knife from top to bottom and “roll” the avocado along the knife so you make one cut all the way around. Put down the knife and twist the halves in opposite directions, like you’re opening a jar, and they will come apart, exposing the pit. If your knife is sharp, give the pit a good, careful thwack to embed the blade in it. Twist and it will come out. (If your knife isn’t very sharp, or you’re nervous about thwacking your hand instead, just dig it out with a spoon.) Gently peel off the skin, and cut the avocado flesh into either ¼” or ½” dice (your call; the bigger, the more of a contrast between flavors. If your avocados are fantastic, go big; if merely very good, go small.). Spritz them with a little bit of lime as you work to keep them from turning brown.
Season avocado chunks with salt, until they taste really good. Gently fold in the salsa. Adjust seasoning with salt, in necessary, and garnish with some more chopped cilantro. If you aren’t serving for a few hours, be sure to place plastic wrap tightly against the surface of the guacamole to deter browning. Serve and watch the praise come down.