Mike’s Famous Guacamole


Mike's Famous Guacamole | Culinary Compost

I’m always amazed by how people settle for commercially-made guacamole frozen in 5-gallon buckets and served as “fresh.” They mindlessly dollop this bland, pale green concoction on their favorite Mexican entree at their local restaurant — never realizing how good it can be if you make it yourself.

Don’t make this mistake at home. Try my recipe and you’ll never order it at a restaurant again. It takes only 20 minutes and is well worth the small amount of time you put into it.

 

Ingredients:
2 ripe Haas avocados
1 large clove garlic, mashed (a clove is one part of the bulb)
3 tbs. finely chopped red onion
3 tbs. minced cilantro leaves
Juice of 1/8 lime
Salt and Pepper

Optional:
minced jalapeños
diced tomatoes

 

Preparation:
Remove skin and pit from avocados. Place in a small mixing bowl. Add juice of 1/8 lime. Mash the avocados with a potato masher until a textured consistency is achieved. Do not blend in a food processor.

Combine other ingredients and fold in with a spoon or fork. Serve immediately.

Makes about two cups.

Note:
There is no such thing as leftover guacamole. Use it up or throw it out. If you must save it overnight, place it in a non-reactive bowl and cover with a small amount of lime juice. Place plastic wrap over the dish and push it down on the surface of the guacamole, removing the air pocket. Contact with air is what turns the avocados brown over time.

You may have heard stories from housewives who leave the avocado pit in the serving bowl to help keep the guacamole fresh. It is simply not true. Don’t expect your guests to politely fish around this culinary eight-ball with their chips either. It’s tacky and I’m here to do my part in ending this craziness; one reader at a time. Citric acid from the lime juice will stop the reaction with oxygen, but you must also remove the air pocket described above.

On a side note; it may be just me, but I think Haas avocados are hands-down better tasting than the smooth, green-skinned variety.

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Mike’s Mesquite-Grilled Steak Fajitas


Mesquite-Grilled Steak Fajitas | Culinary Compost Recipes

No other dish comes close to the excitement and flair of a hot skillet of fajitas served for hungry guests. The aroma, sizzle and spice create a memorable experience that is perfect for just about any occasion – indoors or out. Fajitas are an Americanized version of Mexican flank steak (faja meaning “belt”.) Texans would probably like to lay claim to the fajita, but history gives credit to Mexican ranch workers living in West Texas along the Rio Grande on the Texas-Mexico border in the late 1930s or early 1940s. When a steer was butchered, the workers were given the least desirable parts to eat for partial payment of their wages. Because of this, the workers learned to make good use of a tough cut of beef known as skirt steak.

The fajita is truly Tex-Mex cuisine (a blending of Texas cowboy and Mexican panchero foods). The Mexican term for grilled skirt steak is arracheras, and its American counterpart is fajitas. Today, the term fajita has completely lost its original meaning and has come to describe just about anything that is cooked and served rolled up in a soft flour tortilla. The only true fajitas, however, are made from skirt steak — and with that bit of history, enjoy the recipe. I’ve tweaked and niggled it for over ten years.

 

Ingredients:

2 pounds skirt, flank or sirloin steak
1 huge spanish or red onion, cut in thin wedges
3 cloves of fresh garlic, minced
1 large red bell pepper, cut in strips
1 large green bell pepper or poblano, cut in strips (if using poblanos, you must remove the tough, outer skin)
1/4 cup washed fresh cilantro leaves (more for garnish, if desired)
Juice of one fresh lime
1 large ripe tomato
Kosher salt, to taste

FOR THE MARINADE-
Mike’s fajita rub
1 tsp. liquid smoke
Juice of 3 fresh limes (a very effective natural tenderizer)
4 cloves mashed garlic
1/4 cup XV olive oil
Kosher salt and fresh-ground black pepper, to taste

FOR THE GRILL-
Wood charcoal (please, gas grills just don’t do this recipe justice.)
Mesquite wood chips
12×12″ aluminum foil square

 

Preparation:

Aggressively pierce the flank steak with a needle tenderizer on both sides, sprinkle generously with rub (working it in with your fingers) and place in large ziplock bag. Mix the marinade ingredients well in a bowl and add to the bag. DO NOT SLICE UP THE STEAK AT THIS POINT. YOU WILL DO THIS AFTER YOU GRILL IT. Coat well, remove the air and place the sealed bag in the fridge for at least four hours, but preferably overnight. Rotate occasionally.

Prepare your mesquite chips for the grill by either soaking them in water for a couple hours OR by placing them dry in a wrapped aluminum foil packet with several holes punched in the side. Either method works well. If you cannot find mesquite chips you can also use hickory.

When ready to grill, cut up your vegetables and set aside so you don’t have to rush everything at once.

Prepare the grill with real wood charcoal; when they turn white, throw on the mesquite chips. Sprinkle a little more fajita rub on each side of the steak. Grill until it is medium-rare, 7-10 minutes. YOU WILL FINISH COOKING THE STEAK IN THE PAN, so don’t worry if it’s a tad pink or even red. This is a good thing.

Remove the steak from the grill and set aside on a cutting board for FIVE MINUTES. This step is critical, as the juices of the steak will draw back into the meat. If you cut it immediately, it would dry out and be tough.

Restoke the charcoal, if necessary. Bring a large, well-seasoned cast-iron pan up to HIGH heat. There really is no substitute for cast-iron with this recipe. The intense heat will warp or burn the non-stick coating off all other pans. I also don’t like using the smaller fajita-style pans like restaurants use, as they are ridiculously small for a family-sized portion prepared in one easy batch. I prefer to place the pan directly on the outdoor charcoal grilling grate.

Add about two tbs. of olive oil to the pan and sear the onion and peppers until slightly blackened. Stir once and add the garlic.

Using a very sharp chef knife, quickly slice up the meat in 1/4″ strips at a bias, ensuring the cuts are perpendicular to the grain of the meat. Add to the pan and stir once. Top with chopped tomato and lightly salt. Add the cilantro leaves and drizzle with lime juice. Remove from heat immediately and serve on tortilla shells with guacamole and your choice of salsa.

Serves 4-6

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Don’t fret if you didn’t get it right the first time. This recipe is a lot of work and requires split-second timing during the cooking process. Practice makes perfect and you will ascend to grilling guru status in no time!

Mesquite-Grilled Steak Fajitas | Culinary Compost Recipes

Mike's Famous Guacamole | Culinary Compost

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