I'm not sure whether pounding spices in a mortar and pestle actually enhances the flavors in a dish. In my mind, a pesto pops more and guacamole is more intense when the ingredients are pounded. I haven’t read a definitive study proving that you get superior flavors, so let's assume that I’m imagining it. Who cares? Your guests will love your guac presentation in the mortar and the placebo effect has never tasted better.
Guacamole is one of my favorite things to make. I like mine to have a lot of flavor with a big back-end of spice. Once you get a hang of balancing the tastes, you will find it’s very easy to make. My buddy Mike Kelley and I have extensively tested this recipe by making multiple batches at multiple parties. It was really tough work, but we ended up with a very good guacamole and Mike ended up getting a mortar and pestle solely for guac production. It has become an unwritten rule that whenever Mike shows up to a party and people are bringing food, he will show up at the party with this guac recipe in his hands.
You can make this in a bowl, but it's much more fun in a mortar and pestle.
Pour a cold beer into a glass.
Below is a picture of all of the ingredients you will need. I omitted the jalapeno for the pic, but you should add it if you can handle the heat.
First, get your 2 garlic cloves and put them on a flat surface. To peel them, lay the broad side of a knife on top of the cloves and then hit the knife with your fist to smash the cloves. They are really easy to peel then. Take a sip of beer. Put the garlic in the mortar and add 1 T of coarse sea salt and 1 tsp of whole black peppercorns. The salt will help you grind the garlic to a pulp. Go to town.
Next, you need to add your cilantro leaves. I don’t like wasting the stems since they have good flavor, so I roughly chop the leaves and stalks before adding to the mortar. Grind this to a pulp. Take a sip of beer.
Dice your onion, and add to the bowl. Give it a bit of a beating to release flavor, but don’t mash all the way. Beer.
Here is the time to prove your spice tolerance. I chopped up a hot pepper and added it to the mortar and mashed. If you are cooking for people who can handle the spice or will try it on a dare, you can add 1 deseeded habanero pepper instead…
Dice your tomatoes and drain all of the water out of them. You can do this by simply squeezing them over a sink. You will end up with a soupy and watery guacamole if you skip this step. This is hard work, so take a good sip.
The next step is to add your avocado*. Slice it in half long-ways and twist it 90 degrees like you are winding up an egg timer and you will have 2 halves in your hand. The pit will stay in one half – to extract, nick it with the blade of your knife and turn it 90 degrees just like you did the two halves. Drink some more beer. Scrape out the insides and use two spoons to mash and chop the fruit.
*Note: How to choose a perfect avocado: The avocado should be a nice, dark color and have a similar feel as an ripe orange when you press on it. If it gives too much, it’s overripe and if you get ones that are not yet ripe, you will have to wait a few days. I prefer Haas avocados (they are the most common).
Roll your limes using the weight of the palm of your hand to loosen up the juices. Slice them in ½ and squeeze the juice out into your bowl and mix.
Taste and adjust the seasoning – if it needs more acid, add lime. If you need more flavor, add a touch more salt.
You should be finished with your beer just in time to grab a fresh one and some chips and enjoy!!
2 cloves garlic
1tsp coarse sea salt
small handful peppercorns
1/2 small red onion
30 cilantro leaves
1 1/2 limes juiced
1 cold beer
With chips (of course)
On tacos of any kind: fish, beef, pork, chicken, shrimp
On top of grilled chicken
Top a Mexican salad with a big spoonful
The White Stripes – Hello Operator