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The only guacamole recipe you'll ever need

Heather Barnett is a freelance writer and foodie whose work has been featured in blogs, websites, magazines, and TV and radio ads. She spends her free time relaxing with her soulmate, Keith; her dog, Mosby "The Fly Slayer;" and Felix th...

Everything you need to know about guacamole you can learn from Laura Bush

The foodie world nearly exploded when Chipotle announced its recipe for guacamole was now freely available online, but is it really the best recipe there is? Those who've tried former first lady Laura Bush's recipe beg to differ.

Chipotle's is good, to be sure, but it doesn't hold a candle to Bush's. She uses lemon (and lot's of it... just like we always do in Texas), which gives it a brighter flavor. Her use of shallots instead of red onion lends it a milder flavor that let's the small amount of jalapeño and black pepper sing without being too spicy (though you can add more if that's the way you like it). And that all-important cilantro is more present while still not being offensive to those who find it has a soapy flavor (myself included). It just tastes fresh and bright, the perfect complement to heavy Mexican or Tex-Mex food.

Moreover, her recipe is flexible. Because she uses more avocados, you never have to worry that adding more of an ingredient or adding new ingredients, as I did, will make it more pico de gallo than guac. The only change I made is to add tomatoes, because that's the way I like it, but as you'll see, you can add just about anything you want.

Everything you need to know about guacamole you can learn from Laura Bush

Just make sure you choose the ripest avocados. The best way to check is to remove the stem end. If it's green, it's underripe. If it's black or dark brown, it's overripe. If it's a lovely yellow color, you're good to go.

Everything you need to know about guacamole you can learn from Laura Bush

In Texas, we use lemon in our guacamole. In Mexico and other parts of the U.S., lime is more common. Either is fine, but lemon has a brighter quality that really shows the difference between avocado and guacamole. Just make sure you roll it on the counter (use a little pressure, just not enough to smash it completely) before you cut it to make sure you get all that citrusy juice.

Everything you need to know about guacamole you can learn from Laura Bush

If you're out of shallots or can't find them, you can substitute red onion, but you should start with only 2 tablespoons (instead of the 3 you need for shallots) in case it's a strong one. The fresh jalapeños can be subbed with any pepper of your choosing, depending on the level of spice you can handle — even the pickled kind if you're in a pinch. I like chopping them quite small so it makes a more cohesive (less pico-like) dip.

Everything you need to know about guacamole you can learn from Laura Bush

If you want to use add-ins, make sure you don't use more than 1/2 cup total (so if you have two, use 1/4 cup max of each), or it will get too chunky. I'm a fan of tomatoes in mine, so that's what I used, but it's fine to use your favorite.

When cutting the tomatoes, you'll have better success with the flavor of your guac if you core them. Just cut off both ends and run a paring or other sharp knife between the flesh and the part with the seeds before cutting in half, then chopping.

The one thing you generally shouldn't do to this guacamole is add too many overly flavorful herbs and spices. Too many just kill that fresh avocado flavor and gives you fewer dipping options.

You can dip anything from chips and pita to veggies into your guacamole, or use it to amp up your favorite Mexican or Tex-Mex food, meat and poultry dishes or seafood.

Everything you need to know about guacamole you can learn from Laura Bush

The only guacamole recipe you'll ever need

Inspired by Laura Bush

If you make too much guacamole, store it in a glass container, and pour about 1/2 inch of water over it. The water will shut out the oxygen and prevent browning. When you're ready to serve, just carefully pour off the water. It won't affect the flavor of the guac, and it will stay just as fresh as the day you made it for several more days than usual.

Serves 4-5

Total time: About 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 4 ripe avocados
  • 2 small lemons, juiced (about 1/4 cup)
  • 2-3 shallots, finely chopped
  • 1/2 jalapeño, finely chopped (more if desired)
  • 1/4 bunch cilantro, stemmed and finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1-1/2 to 2 teaspoons kosher salt (or to taste)
  • 1/4-1/2 cup add-ins, finely chopped if necessary (optional — I used Roma tomatoes)

Directions:

  1. Halve and pit the avocados. Scoop the flesh into a bowl (I find dicing it before scooping makes it easier to smash). Add 1/2 the lemon juice, and smash until you've reached a mostly smooth consistency. A few small chunks are OK.
  2. Add the shallots, jalapeño, cilantro, pepper, 1-1/2 teaspoons of salt and your add-in(s), and mix thoroughly.
  3. Taste. Add more lemon juice and salt, as desired.

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More on guacamole

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