Food Blog Battle: Chile-Mango

As most of you know, Macheesmo and I have a standing rivalry. We decided to heat up this cold war and have a food blog battle. We set some rules and got started. First, he sent me a list of ingredients from which I chose chile powder. I told him which one I wanted, and sent him a new list. He picked mango. Now we both had to make a dish with chile powder and mango, then post it around 9am on Monday morning!

One sweet, one savory. This is my kind of challenge! Mango and Pepper is actually a common combo. We all know that M.I.A. puts salt and pepper on her mango before eating. It is a common practice in Mexico to serve sliced mango on a stick dipped in a salt and chile powder mix.

For this challenge Mandi and I found inspiration in 2 main places; mango salsa, and a cheese we have both had – white stilton infused with pieces of mango and ginger. We didn’t want to just do a plain mango salsa with fish, because we have done many things like that before. We changed the fish to chicken breasts because they are a nice blank canvas that you can put a ton of flavor into. Mandi wanted to put the mango salsa ingredients into a cornbread, but it still wasn’t enough for me. We really needed to bring it to beat Macheesmo! We came up with the idea of a savory mango soufflé. Now you would think that someone like me who isn’t much of a baker to begin with, and has seen too many people screw up soufflés on reality cooking shows would be scared of a soufflé. NO! I am scared of nothing! We once made soufflés for a dinner party and they came out great! Besides this isn’t a one time thing like on “Top Chef” where they only have an hour. I have all weekend and I can do a test run first. Well Friday happy hour quickly became an all night affair and an impromptu pizza party occupied the bulk of Saturday so here we were on Sunday with no test runs…

As far as I know, there are 2 types of mangos commonly available in Bermuda. On the right are the more common ones, “Tommy Atkins,” and on the left are champagne mangoes. These mangos have a slightly more bitter flavor compared to the extremely sweet. I can’t figure out if the plural of mangos has an ‘e’ or not, so I’m gonna go e-less the rest of this post. Deal.

Mango powder is popular in India, and since I was making chile powder, I figured I could make some mango powder too! First I removed some moisture with a paper towel.

Then I let them sit out in the sun for 6 hours!

This is how they looked after their time in the sun. These things pack a lot of moisture!

This is after 3 more hours in the oven at 150.

There are a few popular ways to cut a mango. Sometimes people cut off the whole “cheek” of the mango, make crosshatches, and invert it. You can see this method here. I like to cut off the bottom of the fruit so it can stand. Then I just slice off the skin and make thin mango slices until I feel the grainy part where the core begins. I love the piney smell when you are cutting mangos!

The next day was the actual cooking. We made this mango puree for our soufflés.

We needed to have a drink for while we cooked! If you just put chile powder into a drink, it doesn’t really permeate throughout the drink the way you want it to. Also, it stays grainy and no one wants that in their drink. The best thing to do is to first put a tablespoon of chile powder into a cup and a half of hot water. Stir this around until the liquid is a dark red. The powder won’t dissolve fully, but it will soften and flavor the liquid. Pour this mix into ice cube trays and freeze it!

To make 2 large drinks, put 6 of these cubes into the blender with some more normal ice. Add the flesh of 2 mangos.  We used the champagne mangos for this application.  A few shots of vodka, then squeeze in juice from half a lemon and a teaspoon of honey.

The result is a nice thick frozen drink.

First you taste the sweet mango flavors, followed by a hit of spice.

No matter how hard you try, you can NOT look cool while drinking from a straw!

On to the chile powder. You knew we would make our own didn’t you? We used a blend of 45% ancho, 45% guajillo, and 10% chipotle. Lay these dried chiles on a pan and bake at 400 for 5 minutes. Watch them closely because they burn quick!

After that, they powder easily.

We pushed it through a strainer so it would be a fine powder. Note to self: buy a spice grinder!

The mangos needed 3 minutes in the oven to get that last bit of moisture out. These look burned, but they don’t taste burned. They taste kind of like lemon with a distinct hint of mango.

The true essence of the battle.

Chile-Mango rub on the pounded out chicken. Salt and pepper too!

We thought some parsley would help.

These are also the champagne mangoes.  We thought the slight bitterness would be better with the chicken.

This is where the Mango Stilton influence came into play.

Separating the yolks for the soufflé.

Corn and onion are things we would put in a mango salsa, so we decided to put them into the soufflé. Mandi diced them really small so they wouldn’t affect the rise.

At the last minute we decided to grill these because it was a beautiful day! How’s the weather in DC Macheesmo?

Quick cook of the corn and onion mixture. There is tiny diced bacon in here too.

The mix goes into one cup of the mango puree.

Dusting the soufflé cups with chile-mango powder and later some cornmeal.

Egg yolks into the mango puree mix that now also has chile powder.

We added a spoon of our whipped egg whites into the mix and carefully stirred to combine. Then add that mix into the rest of the egg whites in 3 segments, slowly folding it in each time.

Fill the ramicans and flatten the top. Then sprinkle with more chile mango. These went in the oven at 375.

Yum. Now we cut the chicken because a soufflé waits for no one.

MMM this chicken was truly fantastic.

Disaster! Just when our soufflés were looking perfectly exploded, they fell. They fell so fast! And the top looks all burnt from the spices. There was a few minutes where we were in crisis mode. Mandi realized there was still some soufflé batter.

We threw more chile powder and more mango puree into the batter. Then we added some basil, jalapeno and 1 cup of cornmeal.  And a half teaspoon of baking powder and salt.

A quick fry turned a broken soufflé batter into some yummy mango-corn fritters.

Not the dish we set out to make, but a great one nonetheless!

The chicken had such a great flavor. The fresh mango and still crunchy jalapeno on the inside, contrasted with the grilled citrus flavor of the mango powder on the outside. The white stilton added a pungent flavor that rounded everything out. The fritters tasted fine and all, Mandi said she really liked them, but all I could taste was failure.

Now it’s time to vote! I still stand by my dish after the disaster and think I put forth a good offering! What do you guys think! Make sure to check his post out first though, this isn’t a popularity contest!  Feel free to vote on his site, because the poll is linked.

Mango stuffed chicken
Pound out chicken breasts and rub both sides with salt, pepper, mango powder, and chile powder (you can make mango powder or buy it at an Indian specialty shop.) Fill with white stilton, fresh mango, jalapeno, and parsley. Roll them up and secure with twine or toothpicks/skewers. Grill.

Chile-Mango smoothie.
Put a tablespoon of chile powder into a cup and a half of hot water. Stir this around until the liquid is a dark red. The powder won’t dissolve fully, but it will soften and flavor the liquid. Pour this mix into ice cube trays and freeze it! To make 2 large drinks, put 6 of these cubes into the blender with some more normal ice. Add the flesh of 2 mangos. And a few shots of vodka. Squeeze in juice from half a lemon and a teaspoon of honey. Blend until smooth. If it is watery, add some ice and blend more. The result is a nice thick frozen drink.