Wednesday, September 5, 2012

A grill, a molcajete & a Cookbook: Holy Guacamole!

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Jon Bonnell, chef and owner of the Zagat recognized Bonnell's Fine Cuisine in Fort Worth, Texas, because...get ready for this...he will be coming to my hometown for a Cookbook gala later this month. Yeehaw!

As part of the assignment, I had to peruse both his cookbooks (yes, I love my job). While both had merits, my spatulas-down favorite has to be Texas Favorites.

"Texas flavors tend to be big and bold, not a thing timid about it."-- Jon Bonnell.
Well this cookbook is Texas bold.

He brings together ingredients and processes that are surprising at first, yet combine to deliver maximum flavor.

Flipping through this cookbook has been multi-sensory, synapses firing experience. The photographs are mouthwatering. It's food porn, but classy food porn. The kind you want to wine & dine...& heat up the kitchen with.

The recipes and the photographs together had be salivating and itching to cook.

I started with a simple and classic Texas favorite: Guacamole.

Bonnell has three guacamole recipes in the cookbook -- smooth & creamy guacamole, chunky traditional guacamole, and --BAM!--Molcajete Guacamole with Hatch Chiles. Yeah, the chef's got game.

Of course, I chose to work with the last because it involves some good basic culinary tools -- the grill & the molcajete (a rustic type of mortar & pestle)-- and the flavors plain intrigued me.

Molcajete Guacamole (adapted from Texas Favorites by Jon Bonnell)

1 small sweet onion, peeled and thickly sliced
2 Hot Hatch chiles
1 large fresh jalapeno
1 dried chocolate chile (I happened to grow these this summer & had them on hand)
1 large vine-ripened tomato, cut in half
1 ear of corn, peeled and cleaned
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 limes, juiced
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
pinch of garlic powder
pinch of cumin
pinch of coriander
pinch of Mexican oregano
pinch of ground black pepper


1. Grill the onions, peppers/chiles, tomato (skin side down) and corn until nicely charred on all sides, but not overdone. The charring adds a nice smoky flavor and depth to the finished dish.

2. Take the chiles of the grill and place inside a sealed plastic bag or paper bag. Let them sweat there for 10-15 minutes. (Next time I will increase the amount of peppers too)
3. Scrape the skins of the peppers and remove the seeds with the back of a knife, then rough chop. (The original recipe has you add the peppers into the molcajete, but I wanted them to remain chunky).
4. Using a sharp knife, cut the corn of the cob. Set aside.

5.Rough chop the onions and tomato and add to the molcajete with the salt. I added the toasted chocolate chile too. Pound until in small pieces. (Warning, the tomato makes it a bit messy so wear an apron. Also, if my molcajete had been large enough, I'd have added in at this point too).

6. In a large dish, mash the avocados into rustic, chunky pieces (I used 6 small avocados), mix in the tomato-onion mixture, spices, lime juice, cilantro, chiles and corn. Mix gently. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.

Serve with your favorite corn chip.

Targeted to the home cook, Texas Favorites features everyday, no fuss recipes that could help make a wholesome family meal, as well recipes with a special twist fit for tailgaiting and/or other gatherings.

 For more information about Bonnell or more of his recipes, check out my article in The Standard-Times.