This recipe is guacamole all grown up. Four avocados pureed with cream cheese, shallot, garlic and chili powder, the pate becomes a suave version of one’s favorite Southwest flavors. The elegance of the texture is a surprise; the flavors are old friends. Shamelessly lifted straight off the pages of Epicurious, this is a certain home-run, a buffet success, instantly the dish around which the party will happen. The internet reviews dazzle with unanimous five-star ratings. Have I said enough?
An acquaintance first introduced this pate to me. I didn’t know the woman well, but one chip-full and I suddenly presumed all sorts of positive things about her. I saw her knowledgeably flushing out fly-by-night or tired holiday party ideas like bacon-wrapped this and marscapone stuffed that, recognizing a winner when she saw one. What is a winner? I’d say it’s a dish you set down, and gradually a crowd surrounds it. Guests interrupt each other to say, “have you tried the such and such yet?” Strangers bond over discovering the absolute best thing into which to plant a chip. A winner dish both surprises and reminds, like the Socratic method of learning: it seems brand new but also recalls a taste you’ve known for years.
I didn’t fry my own tortillas; I used toasted toasted pita chips, which weren’t bad, but not as indulgent as homemade tortilla chips, which the pate-bearing woman brought. They truly set the dish up to say, “this is a really good party.”
Set this pate between the Champagne bottles at New Year’s Eve or the beer bottles at a Superbowl Party. If I haven’t said it enough, it’s a winner, and on its way to being a classic. Move over onion dip.
4 ripe avocados, peeled, pitted
2-8 oz. cream cheese, room temp.
2 tablespoons minced shallots
1 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons chili powder
½ teaspoon salt
4 to 6 tablespoons chopped, unsalted pistachios
½ cup finely chopped, fresh parsley
½ cup black olives
10 to 20 cherry tomatoes, quartered
Line 6-cup rectangular loaf pan with 3 layers of waxed paper, extending over long sides only. Brush top sheet of paper, generously with oil.
Puree avocado and cream cheese in processor until smooth. Add shallots, garlic, lemon juice, chili powder and salt to puree for approx. 30 seconds.
Transfer into prepared pan, smooth top. Press plastic wrap onto surface of puree and refrigerate for at least 6 hrs or overnight.
Remove plastic and unmold onto serving platter. Remove wax paper.
Put pistachios and parsley, with a little water for moisture, in food processor. Pulse a few times to blend.
Apply that mixture over sides and top of pate. Garnish around the sides with lettuce, olives and tomatoes. Serve with tortilla chips.
Homemade Tortilla Chips
12 corn tortillas, cut into quarters
vegetable oil if deep frying
1 teaspoon salt
Add enough oil to come halfway up the sides of a large heavy pot or electric deep fryer. Heat oil over high heat to 360 degrees.
Without crowding, working in batches, deep fry the tortillas quarters until golden brown, turning once, about 2-3 minutes. Remove to paper towels to drain. Sprinkle lightly with salt.