Guacamole!

Everyone has their own way of making it. Some people use lemon juice, some people use lime juice. Pureed smooth or chunky. With or without onion, tomato, jalapeno, mango, garlic, cumin or cilantro. And yes, some people put mayonnaise in their guacamole. The guy who ran the deli counter at my corner market whipped his secret guacamole (secret because you had to live in the neighborhood for years before he’d let you know about the batch he’d make on Saturdays), with sour cream and when you raved about how good it was, he’d say, “South American guacamole. Better than all other guacamole.”

I recently asked my readers how they made their guacamole so we could have a little fun in the weeks leading up to one of the biggest snacking day of the year, the Super Bowl. It was going to be Super Bowl Guacamole Week, but then I received more than a week’s worth of recipes and it blew up into an extravaganza of avocados.

I had planned on posting my own personal guacamole recipe, but when Holly’s IRON FIST guacamole turned out to be so close to mine (just without the cumin), so I decided maybe it would be worth reviewing a few store bought guacamoles for the Football Foodie readership who might be in a hurry on Super Bowl Sunday, or worse, pinned underneath a car or a fallen tree and unable to use half of their body for guacamole making since pitting an avocado really is a two-armed endeavor, or at least a bit easier with two arms. I’m sure people with one arm make great guacamole, but if you’re newly stuck under a car or a tree, you may not be in the right state of mind for making guacamole.

Then a funny thing happened. I couldn’t bring myself to buy pre-made guacamole. I looked at the bags of guacamole puree at Trader Joe’s, the vacuum-sealed bags at my neighborhood Gelson’s, the plastic containers filled with green-ish goo in the refrigerated section at my little corner market. I read all the ingredients and they all looked okay; avocados, garlic, spices, jalapeno, lime, and yet, there was nothing appealing about any of them. See, I’ve had store bought guacamole and really, they’re not bad, but they’re not really good either, they’re just sort of tasteless. There is very little flavor left in the avocados by the time they get to your home, their richness long since given away to the citrus they’ve been cured with, their greenness left merely to act as a vessel for transporting jalapeno and making sure tortilla chips aren’t seen naked at the party. Even the best homemade guacamole loses its zip over a couple of days, no matter how tightly you pack it up.

I was staring glassy-eyed at a package of “spicy” guacamole at the store when Bry reminded me, “Hey, doesn’t Trader Joe’s sell little kits to make guacamole with? Why not make that?”

Hope! yes! Guacamole in a package, but you still have to assemble it! Maybe this won’t be so bad! Plus, for $3.99 you’re getting much more than the 6-8 ounces of guacamole in all of the pre-packaged deals! Let’s try that!

You will need:

Salt

One Trader Joe’s Guacamole Kit which contains:

2 small avocados
2 cloves of garlic
1 shallot
1 Roma tomato
1 jalapeno
1 lime

The lime was fine, the avocados on the smaller side, the Roma tomato was a little underripe (forgivable since it’s January), a small shallot, two cloves of garlic (a little on the older side, but not turning green), and a mid-sized jalapeno.

When selecting my guacamole kit, I saw all different sizes of jalapenos packed in the containers, so if you like it hotter you can get a kit with a large pepper.

Mince the garlic and the shallots, dice the tomato and the jalapeno. (Since the kit didn’t mention anything about removing the seeds from either the tomato or the jalapeno, I left them in. I did however dice the jalapeno pretty finely to accidental “hot” bites.)

My biggest worry when I bought the Trader Joe’s Guacamole Kit was the quality of the avocados in the little fresh-pack box. Would they be overripe? Underripe? I had opened the package to quickly check their firmness, but couldn’t get a good feel of the avocados without taking the whole kit apart in the aisle which probably would have caused me to spill my little sample cup of Trader Joe’s coffee, and no one wants to be the one who causes a clean-up on aisle five. (“Irv, I wasn’t even in aisle five!”)

Fortunately, these guys turned out fine even though they were little on the firm side which is better having avocados that are brown and mushy. Avoid guacamole kits holding avocados that look a little too dark and shrunken around the stem or kits containing bright green avocados.

Season with salt if desired, about a half a teaspoon since it’s a small amount guacamole.

Combine with the juice of the lime.

This is where the kit went a little off course. The particular avocados were ripe enough (and a little too small) as not to need an entire lime worth of juice to soften them up, although I imagine if one was stuck with one of the kits with hard avocados you’d be happy about all the lime. Maybe if TJ’s suggested using half to a whole lime worth of juice in their directions, people would end up with a better guacamole.

Serve.

The good:

Shallot: People always worry about too much onion in their guacamole. Shallots dice up so nicely into tiny little pieces, it’s a shame more people don’t make their guacamole with shallots.

Avocado: Pleasantly surprising in quality, if a little on the small side. If you are buying a day or two a head of time, I recommend looking for kits that have underripe avocados, leaving those out on the counter to ripen and putting the rest of the kit in the refrigerator. If the avocados are just about at peak, but the whole thing in the fridge.

The needs work:

Lime: It’s a lot lime juice. Adjust according to need.

Tomato: It’s also a lot of tomato filling out the guacamole.

As you can see, the Trader Joe’s guacamole kit doesn’t yield much guacamole, a little under two cups worth. While two cups of onion dip may seem like a lot of dip, two cups of guacamole is just enough for two or three people, maybe four if everyone has an extra slice of pizza. What might make this kit perfect is buying a third avocado to balance out the tomato and the lime. Even with the extra dollar or two spent for a third small avocado, you’re still doing pretty good for a $3.99 guacamole kit and are well ahead of the game than spending anywhere between $4 and $7 for half as much tasteless guacamole.

Follow Super Bowl Guacamole Extravaganza here for the next couple of weeks!

Your 360-interactive-all-media-guide for the Football Foodie and the 28 Days of Super Bowl recipes can be found here, so you can follow along on Facebook, Pinterest and our own new glorious galleries that can be found at the top of this very page.

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