Avocados are a staple on mainstream menus, yet many foodservice operations limit their use to guacamole, avocado toast, sandwiches and salads. The 12 chefs attending FoodService Director’s Culinary Council Summit, held this fall at University of Michigan, learned how to take avocados into new menu territory through a presentation by sponsor Avocados from Mexico and hands-on kitchen time with its chef, Brian Wilford.
Chef Wilford began with a demo of avo-chicharrons—fried avocado wedges coated with crushed chicharrons or pork rinds. He served these with Mexican crema for dipping, but suggested ranch dressing as a good substitute. To make this easy and unique appetizer or snack, click here for the avo-chicharrons recipe.
The Culinary Council chefs also picked up many valuable tips for purchasing and working with fresh avocados. Here’s a rundown of some lessons learned:
• An avocado is ripe when it yields to firm, gentle pressure. If it’s too hard, store at room temperature for two to three days to ripen.
• Ripe avocados can be stored for up to one week in the refrigerator.
• Brush the exposed flesh of an avocado half with lemon juice, olive oil or milk to prevent it from turning brown; wrap in plastic and refrigerate.
• After halving avocados, slice them in the shell, then fan out on parchment; the slices will hold for eight hours between two sheets of parchment.
• For a large batch of basic guacamole, smash 5 pounds of ripe avocados with 1 cup lemon or lime juice; season to taste.
Once the Culinary Council chefs got into the kitchen, they created everything from smoothies to Indonesian toast to cheesecake with fresh avocados. But guacamole remained a favorite, with several global variations being tried.