To say avocado is trending is an understatement
Avocado, also called the Alligator Pear by the English who first encountered it, is believed to be from the Puebla region of South-central Mexico, where this delicious fruit was foraged by humans and eaten by large, since-extinct animals. The Aztecs believed that anyone who consumed avocado would gain strength and the ancient Maya even named the 14th month of their calendar after it. The name avocado even came from the Nahuatl word ahuacatl which refers to the testicle… Yum. The avocado was introduced in mainstream America in 1833. In the 1980’s the fruit took a hit when low-fat diets became the craze. It wasn’t until people learned that there were good fats like the avocado to consume. Lately, we’ve all seen an uptick in use in pizzerias as of late, but this fruit is still tricky because of oxidation and ripeness challenges.
Avocados and the 100s of cultivars come from the smaller Mexican variety, which is cold resistant. The Guatemalan variety grows larger but has warmer climate constraints. Now, 95 percent of the avocados grown in California are of the Hass variety. Many avocado aficionados avoid the big green avocados from Florida for fear of inferior, watery texture but these are still great in salads.
Hass avocados are obtained year-around, the pebbly skin turn darker as they ripen and is somewhat soft when squeezed gently. The flavor is rich and nutty.
Fuerte avocados are an easy-peeling variety with a small bumpy, green skin that doesn’t darken when ripe. This has a mild flavor and is better suited for salads.
Sharwill avocados are medium, small-stoned variety with shiny green skins. Press the area just above the widest part for ripeness. It has a nutty flavor and oil-rich flesh perfect for spreading.
“Dats aloto Avocado”
To say avocados are trending now is an understatement. The popularity of avocado toast, sushi rolls, avocado sauces and guacamole is peaking. I started making wildly popular avocado toast by using my par-cooked Sicilian-style crust, which is cut and toasted, then topped with avocado. To broaden the use of this menu item in my Slicehouse, my customers have a choice of regular avocado and “Everything” spice or topped further with a “Caprese” style with mozzarella, basil and tomato, smoked salmon with all the trimmings or Prosciutto di Parma and arugula. You may want to vary the possibilities even further. First, let’s look at the food cost of incorporating avocado into your menu mix.
Food Costing: Because avocado is very vulnerable to browning or going bad, it can be a volatile ingredient to buy fresh by the case unless your prep includes incorporating antioxidants like citrus juices. Avocados that are peeled and halved in frozen, vacuum-packed containers run .86 cents each for a case of 48. Larger cases of avocados run for 12 count @ $2.48 each or larger cases of Hass avocados for $1.60 each. Organic avocados may run up to $2.60 each for larger cases.
Labor: Because we all live in a restaurant reality, the labor involved in cutting, peeling, following recipes may be concerning. A prep cook could cut themselves or mix it too hard turning the fruit into mush or the avocados may come in too soft or too hard in storage. Therefore, I prefer the ready-serve trays which weigh two pounds and come frozen. The avocado is in chunks and can easily be manipulated to your specifications and doesn’t discolor easily. As of this writing, they come in cases of eight and cost approximately .23 cents an ounce.
You don’t have to feel like an outlier for using avocado. Because avocado is a neutral in flavor, the combination of pairing with other flavors and textures are tremendous. Here is a long list: bacon, sour cream, black and white pepper, grapefruit, radish, arugula, chili peppers, chicken, scallions, crab, chervil, butter, beans, cream, corn, fennel, endive, frisee greens, garlic, jicama, mayonnaise, walnuts, tarragon, spinach, Dijon mustard, lime, lemon, basil, yogurt, cayenne, jalapeño, red onion, apple, mango, ginger, tomato, cashews, passion fruit, vinegar, shrimp, parsley, cumin, lettuce, turnip, celery, dill, peas, pineapple, pistachio, smoked salmon, chocolate, blue cheese, cucumber, grape, hazelnut, mint, nutmeg, soft cheeses, strawberry, cauliflower, pork and wheat berries.
Here are some great uses for avocado in your restaurant or pizzeria:
Mexican Guacamole with garlic, cilantro, lime, onion, serrano or jalapeño peppers and black pepper. Add after the oven on a Carne Asada, (grilled beef) Pizza or add a few tablespoons of mayonnaise for a Columbian Guacamole on a Pollo a la Plancha Pizza, (grilled chicken).
Avocado Panna Cotta: These savory bombs can be refrigerated for a nice appetizer. Just add bloomed gelatin leaf, milk, cream, avocado, fennel pollen and grated Parmigiano Reggiano into a food processor and blitz. Pour into oiled molds and refrigerate. (Too crazy? Try it and see.)
Avocado Chutney: These specialties from India through Sri Lanka include adding coconut, lime, garlic and tomato with shallots and cilantro for spectacular effects. Indian chefs have been very fond of adding curry to avocado with coconut cream.
Mojo de Ajo Pizza with Shrimp and Bacon
This pizza features a spicy Mojo de Ajo sauce that is vivid orange in color. With bacon squares, shrimp, avocado and lemon, the pizza pops with a high presentation. Get the Mojo de Ajo Pizza with Shrimp and Bacon recipe now.