Cinco de Mayo is coming up and we have another fun family recipe to help you celebrate this Mexican holiday in style. We are so lucky to be surrounded by a family full of foodies, and my cousin Zack Berger is no exception. Zack is big, bold, clever and funny, and his recipe for “Rough Cut Guac” is a unique and delicious spin to the traditional avocado dip.
Two summers ago Zack and his family spent a week at the family cabin on Lake Melissa, and he made this guacamole for us nearly every day. What makes Zack’s version different is that he uses sautéed chorizo and jalapeno pepper, as well as charred sweet corn, which add wonderful flavor, spice and depth to this dish. Not surprising from Zack, because he embraces life by seeking out these same elements as he pursues his passion as an actor and foodie in New York City.
Chorizo is a flavorful Mexican sausage which can be found locally in hot or mild styles. Once removed from its plastic casing it can be quite soft, so for this purpose we place it in the freezer for about fifteen minutes to firm it up before slicing.
After making Zack’s original recipe we realized that we had enough guac to feed a small army, so we have adapted it for smaller groups. Zack’s original recipe called for three jalapenos, but we’re recommending one to two in this version, depending on your taste. Whatever amount you choose, use half to cook and save the other half to add later.
Cooking the jalapeno, even with its seeds, will mellow its spicy heat and enrich its flavor. Most of this pepper’s heat is in its seeds, so we use them only when cooking, saving just the chopped raw pepper to add at the end.
Zack’s recipe involves a few additional steps than traditional guacamole, so take time to prepare your mise en place first – meaning, put everything in its place before starting. Read the recipe carefully and then chop any vegetables and herbs, measure ingredients, lay out all pans, utensils and other required equipment. In this recipe, everything but the avocados is an easy rough-chop and can be prepared several hours in advance for quick assembly just before serving.
Lately the avocados we have found in our local stores have been perfectly ripe for guacamole. They should be soft to the touch, and your finger should leave an imprint after pressing it. If you can’t find ripe avocados, we have a great trick to speed up the ripening process. Place the avocados in a paper bag with a ripe banana or apple, or both, folding the top over to close the bag and store in a cool, dark place. Within twenty-four hours the avocados should be ready to use (I’ve even had success after just four hours).
Zack adds the avocados with the rest of the ingredients at the very end, squeezing them from their shell instead of chopping them. Making guacamole is not an exact science, so taste the mixture at this stage and adjust flavors as desired, adding more lime juice, salt, pepper, jalapeno and cilantro to suit your taste.
Zack recommends serving his guac with Southwestern, black bean, or seasoned tortilla chips. We made our own chips with fresh corn tortillas baked in the oven, a perfect weight for this hearty dip, and the experience was almost as good as having Zack here in person. Almost.