(The recipe is down at the bottom because I want you to have to scroll past my pontification to get to it.)
Avocado selection is important and non-obvious. Ripe avocados are black and soft, but not mushy. Perfect guacamole avocados are not quite ripe. They are slightly firmer than avocados that you might select for eating out of the shell, or in a salad, for example. You can get away with this because the first thing you're going to do is mash them up. The reason to pick less-ripe avocados is that they have less of the oxidized brown parts. (Don't try to make guacamole with green or hard avocados: your avocados should still be soft when you slice into them.)
5 small avocados from our local mecixan market - serves 4
After you've opened your avocados, spoon them into your mashing bowl. I like to pick out the obvious brown parts and discard them, but you don't have to be too vigilant, it will generally all come out in the wash (i.e. mash). On occasion though, I will discard an entire avocado if it's too brown and mushy when I open it up.
All spices are to taste, but the spice balance is really what makes or breaks the guac in my opinion. My greatest lesson, and the most important piece of advice I can bestow upon you, is that you need more salt than you think you do. And more garlic. A lot more garlic. The first step after opening the avocados is to salt them. You should salt the guacamole until just before it tastes like salt. Don't be afraid of overshooting; go slow and get it right. If you go too far, that's why you have tomatoes and garlic on hand. Garlic is fantastic for balancing salt: adding a lot of garlic will allow you to add more salt, and you should do so.
The other spices I use are black pepper and cayenne. The cayenne especially adds a little bit of a slow burn to your guacamole that will give it a subtly addictive quality. It should be noticeable on reflection, but you don't have to make it hot for it to have an effect. If your guests are spice-intolerant (ahem), you may omit. Do not bother with Paprika or Chili Powder, you will not taste it and it will turn your green brown.
This is what I use.
Acid prevents avocados from browning too soon (it works on apples too.) Lime juice is delicious in guacamole, and I feel that it's really necessary for a truly sanctioned mix, but of course sometimes we have to make sacrifices.
For mine I only used half a lime.
Include tomatoes if you have them on hand, and especially for large party bowls. They taste good, add some festive color, and they're a lot cheaper than avocados. Select ripe, red tomatoes and dice them fine enough that they blend in. Do not add them until after you get your spice mix just about right, as too much mixing will cause them to disintegrate.
If I have cilantro on hand for some other part of the meal I will often include it. Chop it very fine so it doesn't interfere with your texture. It's optional.
Some people are wrong.
Garlic or Garlic Salt?
Real garlic is too sharp and screws up your texture. Garlic powder dissolves beautifully and gives you an even texture and taste. Sometimes easier is also better.
Don't like 'em. Their taste overpowers the avocados, and their texture gets in the way too. They're great on tacos or whatever but with guacamole they're a bull in a china shop.
It really affects the texture and color. I've had some good guacamole that was made this way but I won't do it myself... It just doesn't seem necessary since the avocados give you plenty of creamy goodness already.
Cutting the Guac
If I'm making a large batch for a party, I will use about one (small roma) tomato per (large haas) avocado. It's just cheaper. Nobody ever complains about it. It means that people who are late might actually get some.
The reference batch was made used 5 rather small avocados for 4 people, but I wrote up the recipe for what I estimate to be an equivalent number of the large avocados that you usually find at supermarkets. If you try out the recipe let me know how it came out.
it will vanish
3 large avocados (or equivalent)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon garlic
2 dashes of cayenne (to taste)
half a lime or 2 squirts from or a bottle of lime juice
1 bag tortilla chips (salted, non-flavored)
Open up 3 ripe-but-firm avocados and spoon them into a bowl, discarding any dark brown portions. Add salt and mash. Test salt level and add more if it doesn't taste too salty yet. Add garlic, pepper, and cayenne, and mix. Taste. Continue to tweak, mix, and taste until it is delicious and a bit salty. Dice tomato and add. Add lime juice. Mix, taste, adjust, serve with tortilla chips.