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maque-guac

Maque Guac

In my personal pantheon of food gods, avocado is of the highest rank. I can’t think of another ingredient that melds grassy, floral flavors with a mouthfeel that is rich and creamy yet manages to be weightless and airy.

Guacamole is the supreme manifestation of all these qualities, the avocado’s most noble expression. The jalapeno and cilantro punch up the grassiness,  and the tomato brings out floral and fruit notes of the avocado.

But I eat so damn much of the stuff, to add some variety, I started thinking about modifications to the classic recipe, which for me has always been Diana Kennedy’s.

My first thought was to take the recipe in a more floral direction, de-emphasizing the grassy flavors. So I replaced the cilantro with basil, which of course resonates nicely with the tomato. That was good for a change but lacked intensity. What else complements avocado, basil and jalapeno pepper?

Corn and avocado are a natural combination. I immediately thought of one of the treasures of Louisiana cooking—maque choux. This is a traditional, creole side dish made by sautéing corn, peppers, celery and cayenne. The corn is milked by removing the kernels from the cob and then scraping the cob with the back of a knife producing a milk that gives the dish a silky texture. The version I’ve always adored added cream and basil.

A mash up of Creole and Mexican was intriguing.

I fooled around with using corn milk in the guacamole and adding a bit of raw corn but in the end the best flavor boost came from briefly cooking the kernels and then blending them into a portion of the avocado. The combination of sweet corn, avocado and basil was exactly what I was looking for—a creamy textured guacamole highlighting the fruit and floral aspects of the avocado, with corn adding a subtle, sweet background note. Leaving out the cilantro however subtracted a hint of bitterness from the dish making it a bit one dimensional. That was corrected by adding lime zest. (lime juice added less pleasant sour notes.)

As for pairing, if you must have wine Sauvignon Blanc is probably the best choice, and of course a good lager works fine. But with guacamole, even when altered by corn, there is nothing like a simple, classic margarita made with just blanco, lime and Cointreau.

Here is the recipe:

Maque Guac

Serves 2-4

Ingredients:

2 large Hass Avocados

8 tablespoons diced onion, divided use

15 basil leaves, divided use

2 large jalapenos, diced divided use

Kernals from 1 ear of corn, divided use

zest of 2 limes

1 large or 2 small tomatoes, diced

Salt to taste

Directions:

1. Cut kernels from corn and boil briefly until they lose their raw flavor.

2. Scoop out avocado flesh placing 1/4 of the avocado in a food processor (or bowl of an immersion blender) and reserve the rest.

3. Add 1/2 of the corn to the processor along with 4 tablespoons of onion, 10 basil leaves, 1/2 the jalapeno and process until smooth

4. In a bowl, combine the avocado/corn mixture and the reserved avocado and mash with a fork to the consistency you prefer.

5. Add lime zest to taste and mix to incorporate

6. Tear the remaining basil into small pieces

6. Add the remaining diced onion, diced jalapeno, diced tomatoes, basil and corn kernels according to your preference.

7. Salt to taste and serve with corn chips for dipping.

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