Some people say fat needs to be balanced with acid, yadda, yadda, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing, blah, blah. Whatever. If you want to serve your guacamole on a thin slice of cucumber with a micro-wedge of lemon be my guest. As Senor Bacon and I know, though, the true way to Miss Ava Cado’s heart is with careless excess.
Who is Miss Ava Cado? Obviously she’s the spokesperson for Avocados from Mexico and their campaign to promote Cinco de Mayo festivities. As part of their Guacamole Blogger challenge they sent me some of their Mexican avocados and other materials needed to make guacamole.
Cinco de Mayo is the celebration of the Mexican victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. (One imagines that by this time France had become used to this sort of result in North America but can see why the ill-trained and out-numbered Mexican force would be happy for the win.) Today the festive holiday is celebrated mainly in the state of Puebla and outside Mexico. For interesting reasons discussed in the relevant wikipedia article it’s Americans that have the most to celebrate because the victory at Puebla probably prevented Emperor Napoleon III from intervening in the U.S. Civil War on the side of the Confederacy.
Back to the matter at hand which is the creation of an excellent guacamole recipe and a great way to serve it. Corn chips are a good if inauthentic (not a concern that will bother us much today) standby but me and Senor Bacon put our heads together and decided cheese crisps would be the real home run.
Senor Bacon’s Guacamole Bites
- 4 Mexican avocados
- juice of two limes
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp freshly-ground cumin
- 2 jalapenos, minced
- 1/2 a large or one small white onion
- small handful cilantro, minced
- 8 medium-thick slices of good quality bacon
Cheese Crisps (adapted from the Cook’s Illustrated recipe for Crispy Cheese Wafers):
- 150 g Parmesan cheese, grated
- 150 g strong-flavoured, semi-hard cheese like aged cheddar
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
Note on bacon: This is not the place for water-laden, “smoke-injected” supermarket bacon. We want the good stuff and so I used a fistful of the excellent maple-smoked bacon I picked up from McCully’s Hill Farm in Stratford a few weekends ago. A little sweet, a lot of pork, and assertively smoky is exactly what’s called for here, whatever your source.
Note on the crisps: Four to five minutes in a 350°F oven on a baking sheet lined with a silicone mat will also deliver good results. In fact, because you can let the crisps cool right on the pan until they solidify this method might be easier for those a little shy with the spatula work.
You want that onion diced finely. Do the thing where you peel the onion half, lay it on the flat side and make closely-spaced cuts in all three planes. But then also take your knife and run it through the pile of onion as if you were mincing cilantro (good practice for mincing the cilantro). We definitely don’t want minced-garlic onion paste but equally a big slice of raw onion would throw things off.
Free the flesh of the avocados from their skins using your preferred method (for example), squeeze lime juice over, and roughly mash the flesh with a fork. Small chunks between the smoother parts will add welcome interest.
Quarter, reserve the seeds and membrane and finely mince the jalapenos. Taste a small bit of the green flesh before deciding how much of the seedy membrane to add back in. The heat of jalapenos vary more widely than other peppers.
Add the jalapenos, salt, cumin, minced cilantro, and minced onions to the avocados.
Cook the bacon until you think it’s 80% done. Not really because it will be cooked any more (though bacon does crisp is some fat is patted or drained off) but because over-cooked bacon is a shame.
Sprinkle a pinch of cornmeal into a silver-dollar pancake shape on a medium hot non-stick pan. Repeat as many times as you can while still leaving a couple centimetres between each circle. Cover each of these with a good pinch of the cayenne-spiced grated cheese. Many recipes parrot the advice that if your piles of cheese are too tall the crisps will be too chewy. I can’t see this being a critical problem (who doesn’t like chewy, crispy cheese?) and the cheese will melt outwards anyway but it is true that you should give some attention to making the piles wider than tall but don’t sweat it too much.
After about three minutes with your thinnest metal spatula go around the edge of each disc and free the outside half centimetre then confidently shoot the spatula under the crisp and flip it onto a large-ish serving platter to cool. The size of the platter is important because fresh from the pan the molten cheese saucers will stick, quite permanently, to each other.
When you have a good-sized batch of crisps ready, top each with an inch of bacon and a dollop of guacamole. If they’re in season a half a cherry tomato pressed into the guacamole would be an acceptable nod in the direction of your cardiologist. Either way I’m sure you’ll enjoy this combination of three excellent, rich, salty flavours.