Sunday, September 15, 2013

Dip and Sip Challenge, featuring BLT Guacamole

I could eat avocado every day. Every. Day. Of course, I don't, because they're always rock hard when I buy them, and then they all get ripe and soft at the exact same time ten days later.

I don't often declare my love of avocados out loud, so I was a bit surprised when I was invited to create a recipe for the Dip and Sip Challenge, sponsored by Piedra Azul Tequila, to celebrate National Guacamole Day (September 16th). I happily joined 9 other bloggers on the task, and I got to work.

Piedra Azul sent me a wonderful bottle of their blanco tequila, as well as a copy of Gaby Dalkin's new cookbook, Absolutely Avocados, for inspiration. I pored over the book, wanting to lick the pages, and marveling over some of the uses of avocado (hello, avocado-coconut ice cream!). Gaby includes tons of tips and tricks for buying and using avocados, including a whole section on different varieties of avocados that us poor folks in the northeast will NEVER see.

My friends and I eat guacamole at pretty much every gathering, to the point where even the folks who don't really cook know what the steps are and how to chop everything just right. For National Guacamole Day, however, I wanted something a little more unusual, and once I got the idea for BLT guacamole in my head, I just couldn't shake it.

The tomato part was easy; I always add tomato to my guacamole. Not much different there. Bacon - well, bacon can be added to anything. Definitely not a challenge. But lettuce? When I get guacamole at a Mexican restaurant, it always comes on a sad pile of shredded lettuce that I do my best to avoid. Even leafy, bright lettuce turns watery when chopped and mixed too much. And then, the answer came in the shape of my CSA share - kale!

Kale, pureed with some jalapeno, turned into the perfect lettuce-substitute. It gave the guacamole enough leafy green taste without changing the texture, (and hey, I hid half a bunch of kale in plain sight!). I added a little more kale, sliced into tiny threads, along with more tomato and bacon for garnish. I put the whole shebang into my molcajete (ok, it's a marble mortar) to serve.

BLT Guacamole
3-4 ripe Haas avocados, halved and pits removed
juice of 1 lime
1/2 to 1 jalapeno, seeds and ribs removed (if you want less kick)
6 large leaves of kale, ribs removed, 1 leaf reserved
1 large tomato, or about 12-15 cherry tomatoes, seeds removed
3 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
salt and pepper

In a large bowl, mash avocado together with lime juice. Just break up the chunks; as you stir in the other ingredients, the avocado will become creamier.

In a food processor, mince the jalapeno (decide how spicy you'd like your finished product) and 5 kale leaves together. It won't quite puree, but you want it as smooth as possible. Add to the avocado and stir to combine.

Finely chop the tomato, reserving a tablespoon or so for garnish. Mix the rest into the avocado.

Add most of the crumbled bacon and combine. Salt and pepper to taste.

To serve, top the guacamole with finely julienned kale, chopped tomato, and a sprinkle of bacon.

And what goes better with guacamole than a margarita? (If you said tortilla chips, you can just shut up. You've clearly never eaten guacamole with a spoon.) I didn't love margaritas for a long time because I always thought of them as syrupy sweet and bright green. But when I realized they were easy to make at home, I was a much happier camper. A traditional margarita is usually 3 parts tequila, 2 parts orange liqueur, and 1 part lime (sometimes 2 parts lime, 1 part orange liqueur instead). I occasionally find that even a little too sweet, wanting just to savor the acidic bite of the citrus alongside the tequila. Combining multiple kinds of citrus adds more sweetness without getting too cloying. And while mixing all those juices together doesn't produce the prettiest drink, it does provide a mixer that doesn't overshadow the tequila, so you want to use a better tequila, like Piedra Azul.

Mixed Citrus Margaritas
This isn't so much a recipe as a set of guidelines.

Combine the juice of whatever citrus you'd like - I like one grapefruit, 1 tangerine (or blood orange, when in season), 1 lemon, and 2 or 3 limes. This much citrus makes enough juice for 6-8 drinks.

Combine 1/4 cup tequila with 1/4 cup of citrus juice. Serve over ice, with or without a salted rim on the glass.