Tortilla chips just seem naked without a side of guacamole. Silky ripe avocado, white onion, chiles, salt, cilantro, and a squeeze of lime combine make an intensely flavored and richly satisfying dip. Some folks like Chunky Guacamole, while others like it smooth (as in this Green Chile and Avocado Sauce). But there’s no denying on its own, simply wrapped in a warm tortilla, or as accompaniment to seafood, rice and beans, tacos, quesadillas, and all sorts of Mexican dishes, guacamole is an essential.
In his cookbook Truly Mexican, chef Roberto Santibañez (of New York’s Fonda restaurants), explains that the word guacamole combines the Aztec ahuacatl (meaning avocado) and mole, meaning a mixture. Which also means, he says, that you can mix in a whole lot of things: cucumber, say, or pineapple, goat cheese or tomatoes. And you can schmear it on sandwiches and burgers, dollop some on a green salad… the choice is yours. (Try this Tomato and Cucumber Guacamole and Cheese-Topped Guacamole.)
Traditionally made with a mortar and molcajete (the vessel shown above, which is made of volcanic rock), guacamole can be mashed up in any large mixing bowl. Just make sure you’re using ripe avocados: that’s the key to a smooth and flavorful mix. (For more tips, watch this video, “How to Make Easy Guacamole.”)