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Homemade Chips and Guacamole

By far, the most popular, and most requested recipe in my family for me to make at get-togethers is guacamole.  Especially around the holidays, this is the dish I'm always asked to make in large quantities.

So while there are at least a million basic guacamole recipes already on the internets (well, 3.2 million on Google, actually), not many also detail how to make homemade baked corn tortilla chips to go with your guac.....


Using Just Six Simple Ingredients


In keeping with my overall theme of "simple", there's nothing over-the-top or innovative here that will win me a spot on a TV cooking show.  So no exotic Guatemalan peppers.  No roasted heirloom tomatoes.  Basically there's nothing here that you can't pick up from the Try-N-Save on your way home from work.

Ingredients for making homemade guacamole
Guacamole Ingredients

So maybe think of this as a refresher for how to make a solid bowl of fresh guacamole. However, if you fancy yourself quite the cocinero, and are pretty handy with an avocado, then perhaps you will want to skip ahead to making your own corn tortilla chips.
Secret Ingredient

So what are the six simple ingredients for awesome guacamole?  Avocado (of course), Onion, Garlic, Tomato, Cilantro and Lime.

Honorable mentions go out to jalapeƱo peppers (though they're not so popular with everyone in my house), corn, bacon and even mango.

A word on avocado types:  In most of the Midwest, we only get one type of avocado.  The ever present Haas from Mexico.  What always mystifies me is why the numerous varieties of tasty avocado that are grown in California don't leave that state.  When I spent a few months working in Santa Monica, I'd hit the Farmers' Market every Wednesday and would be blown away by all of the great locally grown avocadoes.  Gwen.  Zutano.  Even Fuerte.  They were all amazing.  And Californians keep them all for themselves.

Preparing and Uses

The best way to mash avocadoes?  With a potato masher.  I scoop out all of the avocado into a bowl, add a generous amount of salt and start mashing.  It only takes a few seconds.

You could also use a traditional molcajete here.  A molcajete is basically a huge stone mortar & pestle that's used to prepare a lot of Mexican cooking.  On a trip once in Mexico, I actually considered bringing one back.  I'm glad I didn't.  They're about 30 pounds....and are also widely available at higher end kitchen shops.  While they look really cool for serving the finished product, I find the potato masher is a lot more practical.

Next you want to get your lime juice mixed in before the avocados start to brown.  The acid in the limes stops this process, and gives it some bright flavor.  If your guac turns brown in the fridge the next day (though why would you have leftovers?), then you probably could have used more lime juice.  I use at least 1 lime for every 2 avocados.

Onion?  1 medium onion for every 2-3 avocados is pretty good.

Garlic?  Probably 3 or 4 cloves to start with.  I tend to use a lot more than that....

Cilantro?  You can't get enough.  This is where you get the awesome, fresh herbal flavors.

Secret Ingredient:  For seasoning, I've found that Carne Asada seasoning has the right blend of salt, chili powder, cumin and other goodness that's perfect in homemade guac.

You're probably seeing that this is a no-recipe recipe.  The quantities are really up to you....that's the fun of making it each time.  In fact, you could also place all of the ingredients out in separate bowls for your guests, family members and visiting dignitaries to make their own unique blend.

How to Safely Remove the Pit of an Avocado

Just like with cantaloupe, start by scrubbing the avocados thoroughly with some soapy water.  If there's anything unpleasant on the surface, once you insert your knife you have a good chance you'll mix it right in.


Place the avocado on a cutting board, and carefully work your knife around the pit.  Pull the avocado open.


Once you separate the two sides, give the pit a gentle whack with your knife


Rotate the knife and avocado half to remove the pit.  Now carefully pinch off the pit with your thumb from the top of the knife.  You should be able to do this without coming in contact with the blade.

Making Corn Tortilla Chips in the Oven


Who doesn't love warm, salty, crunchy tortilla chips?  Hopefully no one raised their hand.  There's a reason everyone is already full once the entrees come out when there are fresh tortilla chips at the table.

And Making them yourself at home in the oven is super easy.  No frying.  In fact, if you bake them before you make the guacamole, you should time it out about right.


In Chicago, we have an awesome local tortilleria called El Milagro that supplies the city with most of its corn tortillas.  They even have a small cafe at their factory in the Little Village (La Villita) neighborhood where long lines of people wait to buy either tacos, or a warm packet of fresh tortillas for a quarter.


The first, and most important, part of making chips is poking the tortilla with a fork.  The holes let steam escape and prevent the dreaded Puffing that happens if you don't.

Next, brush both sides very lightly with cooking oil.  This is how they'll get crunchy and browned.



Cut the tortillas to your favorite size and lay them out on a wire rack in a sheet pan.  Place them in a 400 degree oven for about 10 minutes.  Flip them over and give them another 10-15 minutes until they are nice and crunchy.  Hit them with some salt and you're ready to go!