My husband was raised in Houston, TX and he is a proud Longhorn. I’m pretty sure that learning how to make a good guacamole and tomatillo salsa was a pre-marital requirement. That and agreeing to participate in the systematic brainwashing of our son that his first choice school will be UT (I put my foot down at painting his nursery burnt orange). The more I delved into the world of avocados, salsas, tomatillos, jalapeños, cilantro (I pity people who are genetically disposed to tasting soap when they eat it), serranos, chili pequin, and chipotles, the more these ingredients revealed their potential.
Let’s say you went to Costco and find yourself coming home with six avocados you convince yourself you’re going to use by the end of the week and the end of the week comes and behold those untouched, perfectly ripe avocados are still in that sexy fishnet stocking like bag taunting and teasing you from your kitchen counter. Could you mash them and put them in your hair as a conditioning treatment? Probably, but that is the subject of a different kind of blog. Here’s how to use those avocados in two different ways using the exact same ingredients; it’s all in the texture. Smooth or Chunky.
Smooth Guacamole For Dipping/Spreading
2-4 ripe avocados, bunch of cilantro (well washed! Nothing will ruin a dish faster than gritty sand), one Serrano or jalapeno (or more if you like a lot of spice), two scallions, a cup of cherry tomatoes, juice of half a lime, salt and pepper to taste. To add a hint of smoky heat, add a touch of canned chipotle in adobo. A little goes a long way so add gradually and taste as you go.
Put all the ingredients in a food processor and mix until smooth and transfer to a bowl. Sprinkle some cilantro leaves or pepitas on top and serve with chips, veggies, etc or use a sandwich spread. Check out the how to video on the Flycakes Kitchen channel on YouTube.
Chunky Avocado Salsa
Now, do the exact same but instead of putting the ingredients in a food processor, cube the avocados, rough chop the tomatoes, cilantro, scallion, Serrano/jalapeño, throw in a dash of chipotle or lime infused olive oil, (future blog post in the works on infused olive oils), lime juice, salt and pepper. Serve on top of grilled fish, chicken, pork or steak.
Same ingredients, two different results.
Roasted Tomatillo Salsa
I frequently make a roasted tomatillo salsa that I use for chicken enchiladas, fish tacos or to serve with chips. My family loves it and the recipe yields so much, I can freeze the leftover salsa for use at a later time.
Take 2 lbs of tomatillos, remove the papery outer layer, put in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet (they release yummy citrusy juice, which you want to capture) and char under the broiler making sure to turn them over so they brown evenly. Don’t be scared if you hear a ‘pop’ followed by a sizzle when they’re cooking, it’s just a tomatillo bursting open which just means you are on the right track.
Cut a poblano and a jalapeno or serrano in half, de-seed only the poblano and place them skin side up on another baking sheet or on a piece of tin foil. Broil until charred. Place the poblano in a baggy or covered plastic container to steam to cool and remove the skin. Let’s go crazy and char a scallion, or a few peeled garlic cloves.
Place all ingredients in a food processor (including the tomatillo juice), add a bunch of cilantro, a dash of salt, a tablespoon of agave nectar and pulse until smooth. Then for kicks compare your freshly made salsa with store bought and the difference in the color alone will convince you to make your own. The one that doesn’t look like pea soup is the homemade one.
I live in NYC with no access to a grill (it’s ok, don’t feel sorry for me) so I use a broiler to char my ingredients. If you have a grill or an outdoor kitchen (Yes, GP I’m talking about you) then by all means have at it.
Salsa Cruda de Tomatillo
OK, now turn your broiler/grill off (let’s pretend it’s Sandy all over again) and using all the same ingredients fine chop them by hand, add lime juice to taste, let it sit a bit to macerate and now you have a ‘salsa cruda’ (a raw salsa). It’s citrusy, refreshing and perfect on top of grilled fish or chicken.
From Mexico to the Middle East
Now, I’m feeling inspired and wondering if the same smooth vs chunky approach can work with hummus. I have such a love hate relationship with that middle eastern deliciousness; it feeds my soul and enlarges my bunda at the same time. I. Can’t. Control. Myself. It’s everywhere: delis, airports, street vendors, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Barney’s…That’s why few people I know (other than my mother) make their own. Why bother? But let’s say you’re inspired, here’s a recipe. By the way, there are thousands of hummus recipes on the internet but they all have one thing in common: Tahini (a sesame paste). There is no substitute for tahini, but it can be omitted.
Your Basic Hummus (The Kind You Really Don’t Have to Make If You Live On Planet Earth)