Saturday, April 26, 2014

Mango Chili Isn't Life Changing, But It's Tasty

You know how I'm fond of saying that inspiration can come from anywhere - often from the most unexpected places?  Well my most recent inspiration wins the award for the most bizarre yet.  For the first time I was inspired by what I can only consider some kind of hallucination.

I was in Auntie El's farm market last week, wandering aimlessly around while my husband inspected and contemplated the peanut butter display.  I stopped in front of a large display of bean soup kits.  My eye wandered over the endless iterations of soup and chili.  How can there be so many types of bean and seasoning combinations?  Suddenly my eye fell on one soup in particular.  It was some kind of southwestern chili kit and I swore it said "mango chili".  Mango chili?  Now that sounded interesting.  How was the mango flavoring added to the chili?  Was there dried mango in the seasoning packet?  Was the cook supposed to add fresh mango along with the stock or water?  I picked up the bag to see exactly what is was all about.

Once I had the bag of beans in my hand, I made the awful discovery that I am surely going insane.  The label said it was Southwestern Sante Fe Chili and it said nothing at all about mangoes.  I had imagined the whole thing.  I couldn't even figure out where I might have even mistakenly seen the word mango in there.

Maybe I'm not crazy.  Maybe it was some kind of divine intervention because once I had the concept of mango chili in my head, I couldn't get it out.  If it didn't exist, perhaps I should make it exist.  Quite frankly the idea of mango chili sounded too delicious not to try.

Like most of my brilliant ideas that sound so incredibly original at the time (like dulce de leche tiramisu or coconut risotto)  all it takes is two minutes on Google to find out that many other cooks have come up with a recipe before.  My method for developing this recipe was to look at all of them, and then reject them all so I could start with a completely new recipe.  There was no way I would use some of those recipes online.  They used jars of mango salsa.  I don't do jars!

I cooked ground turkey and then cooked some onions, jalapenos, and garlic.  I seasoned the onions with cumin, and chipotle powder (because mango and chipotle go together like ramalamalama ka-dingiddy-ding-da-dong).  I cooked down a large quantity of mango chunks and then added in a can of tomatoes.  I wasn't sure if tomatoes were a good idea or not, but I figured if they didn't work, I would come up with a new recipe in the future.  I used black beans instead of the pinto beans I usually use in my chili.  I just liked the idea of a darker bean against the pale mango.

I expected this chili to be epic and life-changing.  It was good, but not worth the dramatic language.  It's biggest flaw was that the mangoes weren't all that ripe.  I bought them earlier in the week expecting them to be ripe by the time I needed them, but some of them were still a bit hard.  I didn't quite get that sweet-spicy taste I was going for.  That's what I get for shopping on a Sunday night after all the best fruit has been picked over.  I will try this again for sure with sweeter mangoes.

I think this would also be excellent with pork.

Turkey Black Bean Chili with Mango

  • 2 pounds ground turkey
  • 1 Tbl olive oil
  • 2 medium yellow onions, diced
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 Tbl chipotle powder
  • 2 jalpeno peppers, cored, seeded, and diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 mangoes, cut into chunks
  • 1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 1 15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
 In a large pan brown turkey meat well over medium-high heat.  Remove turkey from pan and set aside and pour off drippings (ground turkey drippings aren't good for cooking in).  Reduce heat to low and add olive oil.  Add the onions and cook them until they are soft.  Stir in the cumin and chipotle powder.  Add the jalapenos and cook until softened.  Add the garlic and cook for another minute.  Add the mango chunks and stir in the salt.  Turn heat to medium and continue cooking until mangoes are soft.  Finally stir in the beans, turkey, and tomatoes.  Cook for another hour to allow flavors to meld.


Sue said...

I LOVE that your mind just invented this crazy combination and you went with it. And I don't actually think it's crazy. I LOVE mangoes (mangos - I can never decide) and I often make mango salsa to go with chili, so why not just put them IN the chili? Having said that, using them in a salsa WILL give you that punch that you thought you were missing and if they're not quite ripe, it won't matter so much. I love your recipe. I would just add a tablespoon of red wine vinegar to add a bit of zing.

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

I can't decide which spelling either, but the spell check like mangoes, so I went with it.

Emily said...

I think this sounds fabulous! It sounds like something they'd eat in the caribbean! Do they eat chili in the caribbean?