The secret to my guacamole recipe and best wine pairing?

Tracie P and I both do a lot of cooking at home and each of us has her/his respective pièces de ré·sis·tance (she fries, I grill; she boils the pasta, I simmer the rice, etc.). And while she is by far the more skilled in the kitchen (ubi major minor cessat), I can say with confidence that my guacamole has gained traction at our dinner parties as having — how can I say? — that je ne sais quoi.

My secret? I peel and seed the tomatoes before I dice them. Then I place them in a colander, lightly salt them, and let them purge their water. The other trick is no secret to anyone who knows good guacamole: buy your avocados while still unripened, place them in a brown paper bag, and then give them a couple of days to ripen slowly on your kitchen countertop (or other cool place, away from direct sunlight).

Otherwise, the rest is simple: a handful of finely chopped cilantro, a teaspoon of minced garlic, a tablespoon of minced white onion, 2 diced tomatoes (peeled, seeded, and purged as per above), 3-4 ripe avocados (as per above), 2 seeded and diced jalapeños, salt and pepper to taste, chili flakes to taste, and freshly squeezed lime juice to taste.

The perfect pairing for guacamole?

I think I’ve found it and I wrote about it today over at the Houston Press

Happy Friday and Happy Memorial Day, yall! Enjoy the “ponte” (“bridge”), as they say in Italian, the three-day weekend! And as our good friend Melvin Croaker would say, please remember our troops!

95 Raveneau Monts Mains (!) and my guacamole recipe

From the department of “dreams do come true”…

Our new friends Sonia and Steven came over for a school-night dinner last night and what a school-night it was! We were utterly floored by the bottle they brought over: 1995 Raveneau Monts Mains 1er Cru.

“I thought you might enjoy this,” said Steven wryly.

My goodness, what a bottle of wine! Such a nuanced nose of fruit and herbs, so steely and rich in the mouth. At 12.5% alcohol (according to the label), one of the most balanced and complete wine. Simply stunning. (Those are Tracie P’s rice balls in the photo btw.)

With Labor Day imminent, I’ve been wearing my Seersucker jacket all week and indulging in the foods of summer, including my guacamole (of which, I will admit it, I am extremely proud). The trick is to purge the tomato of its water before assembly. Check out the recipe below.

Steven’s from Texas originally and has recently returned to Austin: he and Sonia have a lot of big plans, culinary and otherwise… More on that later.

In the meantime, seems that Tracie P and me aren’t the only ones eating and drinking well this summer. Pastrami mia: I guess Alfonso gave up on his health kick when tempted with the pastrami of Shapiro’s in Indianapolis. I think I feel an acute case of pastrami envy coming on!

Happy Labor Day ya’ll!

Jar’s Guacamole*

American Spanish guacamole, adaptation of Nahuatl ahuacamolli, from ahuacatl avocado + molli sauce (OED online edition).

1 medium-sized tomato
1 bunch cilantro
½ white onion
1 jalapeño pepper
1 clove garlic
2 ripe avocados
2 limes
kosher salt
freshly ground pepper
chili flakes

Finely dice the tomato and transfer to a colander. Sprinkle lightly with kosher salt and allow the tomato to purge its water for about 30 minutes.

In the meantime, rinse the cilantro, dry well, and finely chop. Peel and mince the white onion. Deseed and finely chop the jalapeño. Peel and mince the garlic and combine all of the above ingredients, including the tomato (water purged), in a mixing bowl. Peel and finely dice the avocado and fold into the mixing bowl. Squeeze and strain the limes directly into the guacamole. Season with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Add chili flakes to obtain desired heat (and/or use some of the discarded seeds from the jalapeño).

* Jar, my nickname from childhood, still used by my rock ‘n’ roll friends.