4.3.12 Go Mango
My love affair with mangoes goes way back to summers spent in Mexico. Late afternoons on the plaza, after the rain had doused everything, fidgeting with anticipation as the mango man peeled me a big ripe one with his blackened steel knife, pierced it with a stick, then drenched it with lime and sprinkled on salt and earthy red chile. Sweet, slick, soft almost to the point of slimy and oh, so juicy. These flavors reach back inside me and conjure up memories of bustling markets, the smell of burning leaves, the delight of a pirulí—that brilliant red elongated pyramid of a lollipop that I twirled and twirled in my mouth. Ah, childhood. Every year at this time I can get it back for a moment when I eat my first mango of the season.
I wait for velvety champagne mangoes, grown in the fertile volcanic soil of central Mexico. Look for them now in your local supermarkets. They're not exactly local, but I allow myself this indulgence and so should you. (You can probably find a case for as little as $10.)Try this easy way of cutting them, above, known as "hedgehog style." You simply slice down on either side of the stone, then score the flesh all the way to—but not through—the skin in a grid. Flip it back on itself and the cubes of fruit splay apart, making it easy to slice them away from the skin with a sharp knife. And always, always gnaw on the stone to get every last bit.
Chutney is a wonderful delivery system for mangoes. I like mine aggressively flavored, with lots of heat, spice, acidity and sweetness. This year I tried a recipe from a serious mango-pusher and canning expert, Mrs. Wheelbarrow
. Unlike many chutney recipes, hers calls for very ripe mangoes (champagne mangoes, in fact) rather than the firmer, underripe ones that are the norm.
Some other ways I enjoy eating mango: with tart yogurt and a drizzle of honey; with vanilla ice cream and coconut caramel; with jícama, cilantro and jalapeño as a slaw; in a salsa with red onion, chile, cilantro and lime (great with fish); blended with yogurt and cardamom for a lassi...
The nice thing about having a few jars of mango chutney on hand is that there's little it doesn't improve. Cheese, for instance. Roast chicken. Tofu wraps. Rice. Curries, duh. Mix it into mayonnaise and toss this with some cooked chickpeas. Go all out and make some of these divine radish fritters
, or these samosas
Have I mentioned to you that I'm actually getting a little sick of these adorable Weck jars? They are sort of like the skinny jeans of the cooking world: ubiquitous to the point of cliché. I think I'll return to these
, though I don't think they come in a mini size. But maybe that's a good thing, because no one needs a little
adapted from Mrs. Wheelbarrow
makes 6 half-pints
— 1 cup organic apple cider vinegar
— 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
— 1 tablespoon fenugreek
— 1 tablespoon whole coriander seed
— 1 teaspoon yellow mustard seed
— 1/2 cup dried cranberries, sour cherries or currants
— 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, grated or minced
— 1/2 cup crystallized ginger, minced
— 2 garlic cloves, grated
— 1 medium red onion, minced
— 5 cups mango, diced
— 1 cup dark muscovado sugar
— 3 small hot chiles, fresh or dried
Mix ingredients together in a bowl and refrigerate overnight so flavors can meld.
The next day, put the mixture into a non-reactive preserving pot and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Turn the heat down and simmer uncovered for 45 minutes or so, stirring gently until the chutney thickens but mango pieces aren’t totally broken down.
Pour the hot chutney into sterilized jars and process for 10 minutes in boiling water.