Appetite For Instruction: Guacamole

Demonstrated by Jeffrey Kowitz of Taco Joint

The name of Jeffrey Kowitz and Corey McCauley's restaurant pretty much says it all--Taco Joint. This low-maintenance East Dallas spot isn't about twisting, spinning or otherwise tricking up what was probably a good thing in the first place.

Kowitz, the man behind Taco Joint's menu, knows how to treat a great ingredient. His simple, straightforward guacamole is a case in point. So many cooks are guilty of playing fast and loose with this dish, a creamy mash meant to highlight the golden-green richness of one of nature's most crave-able fruits. Why bastardize something so perfect with mayonnaise, cream cheese or even (yes, we've seen it) broccoli purée?

Just stick to the basics. "It's really easy," Kowitz claims. And it is: just start with a bagful of ripe avocados, and he'll show you how not to mess 'em up.

Step 1: Halve and pit eight ripe avocados and remove the flesh from the skin with a large spoon. Kowitz prefers Hass avocados, the common, smaller variety available throughout the year. They're ripe when nearly black in color, with wrinkled skin that yields to gentle pressure.

Step 2: Mash avocados to a coarse paste. A potato masher is the ideal tool to achieve the perfect not-too-smooth consistency.

Step 3: Gently fold in one cup of prepared pico de gallo, ½ tbsp. granulated garlic, ½ tbsp. salt and the juice of half a lime. Kowitz uses Taco Joint's pico, but your favorite homemade, grocery store or restaurant variety of this rustic salsa will do just fine.

Step 4: Taste the dish and add more salt or lime juice if necessary. But Kowitz reminds us that avocados are the main event. "The goal is not to have it taste like a margarita," he jokes. Of course, that's not to say that this guacamole wouldn't go great with a tequila chaser.

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