Growing up in New York (Staten Island to be exact), I was not exposed to mangos too often- even at the fine restaurants I cooked at in Manhattan they were not very prevalent . It wasn’t until I arrived here in 1996 from the cold weather that I started to understand how regional our wonderful country is. I was 24, so that may provide some perspective – still a young and upcoming chef. Regional to me was whether or not the Italian sausage I was eating had fennel or not and even more so, who thought it acceptable to put seafood in their pasta and then added cheese- a big no-no. There were rules to my southern Italian-American upbringing. Fast forward to 2015- I live in Miami Shores which was a pretty much a mango plantation in years past and still possesses countless mango trees. The home I live in had a mango tree in the yard when we moved in (in 2003) but unfortunately it had to be removed due to poor health after a lightening strike. When I walk my dog Stella down my street, I pass no less than 4 mango trees. My good friends have mango trees and they share them with me. My favorite mango is the Valencia even though they are not easily found. The most popular and readily available mangoes you will find locally include the Haden and Kent varieties.
For chefs, Mangos have a lot to offer. Flavor, nutrients and history make them very interesting and versatile. Locals take pride in them and tourists associate them with the tropical environment they are visiting. At Creative Tastes Catering & Event Production, Chef Andrea and her team have countless recipes utilizing local mangos. Her most recent dish was a Jamaican Coffee Braised Brisket with a Chile -Mango Corn Cake and Mango-Blackberry Citrus Salsa. The combinations were memorable and were featured at this years Mango Festival at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden. A great festival each summer- don’t miss out if you haven’t attended.
As the summer comes to a close and most of the mangos have been picked and my last mango smoothie is pureed, we can look forward to next summer and start to consider how else we can use these great local fruits. Cooking for 25 years you would think that it could be hard to come up with new ideas but that’s not the case. Maybe for 2016 it will be a mango marmalade infused with star anise- could be good a great accompaniment with roasted lamb chops?
A great book for mango recipes is Mango– by Jen Karetnick, a bunch of local Miami chefs contributed some pretty interesting recipes.
- Yield: 1 Loaf
- • 1 ½ Cup Granulated Sugar
- • 1 Cup Mashed Bananas
- • ½ Cup Mashed Mango
- • 2 Ea. Eggs
- • 1 ¾ AP Flour
- • 1 Tsp. Baking Soda
- • ½ Tsp. Salt
- • ⅓ Cup Sour Cream
- • ½ Cup Oil
- • 1 Tsp. Vanilla
- • 1 Tsp. Cinnamon
- • ½ c Chopped Pecans (optional)
- Combine all wet ingredients until smooth. Gradually add flour, baking soda and cinnamon until combined. Stir in nuts (optional). http://creativetastes.com/blog/mangos/Spray 8x4’ loaf pan, lightly flour and line with parchment. Fill ¾ way and bake at 325 degrees for about 40 minutes.
- Recipe by Chef Andrea Curto- Randazzo