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Guacamole with Corn Chips (Guacamole con Totopos)

This is simplicity itself: a rustic botana (tidbit for snacking) that owes its flavor to the quality of the avocados. After all, the Nahuatl word guacamole means avocado mixture, and that is what it should be. Use avocados that are firm but soft to the touch.

Ingredients:

For the guacamole:

  • 1 ripe tomato, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbs. finely minced white onion
  • 3 serrano chilies, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt, plus more as needed
  • 3 large avocados, preferably Haas
  • 2 Tbs. finely minced fresh cilantro

For the garnish:

  • 1 Tbs. small fresh cilantro leaves (optional)
  • 1 Tbs. finely chopped white onion (optional)
  • 1 Tbs. finely chopped ripe tomato (optional)

For the totopos:

  • 8 thin corn tortillas, each 4 to 6 inches
      in diameter
  • Corn or peanut oil for frying
  • Sea salt (optional)

Directions:

To make the guacamole, put the tomato, onion, chilies and the 1/2 tsp. salt in a mortar or small bowl, and smash with a pestle or fork to a coarse paste. Cut the avocados in half, remove the pits and scoop the flesh into the tomato mixture. Add the minced cilantro and mix and mash, leaving some lumps. Taste and adjust the seasonings with salt.

If you want, sprinkle the guacamole with any or all of the garnishes and serve immediately, if possible. To keep at room temperature for up to 1 hour, cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto the surface. To keep for up to 3 hours, do not add the cilantro until just before serving, and cover and store in the refrigerator.

To make the totopos (chips, strips or squares), stack the tortillas in 2 equal piles. Cut each pile into 4 to 6 triangular wedges, strips 1/4 inch wide by 1 inch long, or small squares. Spread in a single layer, cover with a heavy kitchen towel or wire rack to prevent curling, and let dry for several hours.

In a heavy fry pan over medium-high heat, pour in oil to a depth of 1 inch and heat to 375°F on a deep-frying thermometer. Add the tortilla pieces a few at a time and fry, tossing them, until light gold. Do not let them darken or they will be bitter. Lift out and drain on paper towels. Salt the totopos while still hot.

Cover with a dry kitchen towel and keep warm for up to 30 minutes in a 200°F oven. Or store for up to 1 day in an airtight plastic bag. Recrisp, if necessary, for a few minutes in a 200°F oven. Put the warmed totopos on a platter and serve with the guacamole. Makes about 2 cups guacamole and 3 cups totopos.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Savoring Series, Savoring Mexico, by Marilyn Tausend (Time-Life Books, 2000).