Sunday, July 25, 2010

Mango Sorbet

As I mentioned in an earlier post, the way my family eats changed pretty dramatically when we moved to Texas. We started to eat a lot of barbecue, just because it’s readily available and so dang good. We also started to eat more Mexican food, but that was almost unavoidable given that there’s a Mexican restaurant on every corner in San Antonio. On top of that, our previous hometown (in Missouri) had no Mexican food to speak of. Unless you count Taco Bell, which I don’t.

The biggest difference in our diet is that we’ve discovered a whole new world of produce, including such favorites as purple hulled peas, dragon tongue beans, and mangoes. I don’t remember whether mangoes were readily available in the other places we’ve lived—all I know is that, within the last few years, I’ve fallen in love with them. They’re similar to peaches, but not quite as tart; they have a piney taste that gives them more a complex flavor. I’ve tried both the Indian and Philippine varieties (the Indian mango is rounded and green with red shading–it’s pictured above–while the Philippine variety is oblong and yellow), and I love them both, though I confess a slight preference for the Indian variety. It’s a little more firm in texture and a little less sweet.

This afternoon I discovered two mangoes that had made their way to the back of the produce drawer. Normally I’d just slice them up and eat them fresh, but these two were very ripe—a little too ripe to enjoy by the slice. But if brown bananas are an excellent excuse to make banana bread, ripe mangoes are the perfect excuse to make mango sorbet.

If you’ve never worked with mangoes before, you might be a little scared to get started. After all, mangoes are notoriously difficult to slice—mostly because of the large, flat, oval pit at their center. You may be thinking: Foodie, just how do you slice a mango? This quick photo tutorial at veganyumyum.com will answer that question for you. Once you get the hang of turning the mango cheeks into cute little mango hedgehogs, you’ll never be afraid of them again. But if you’re too nervous to give it a shot without some assistance, this OXO mango splitter can help with the job. (I’m a big fan of OXO products, just so you know. Their cherry pitter works like a dream. And no, the good people at OXO aren’t paying me to say this.)

You may also be wondering: Foodie, do I really have to follow the first few steps of this recipe—can’t I skip over the making of simple syrup and just sweeten the mangoes with a little sugar? Come now. You know if that were possible, I’d say so. I’m all about the easy. But the fact of the matter is, you need the simple syrup in this recipe to give the sorbet a little bounce. A little elasticity. Without it, you’ll end just up with a block of frozen mango puree. And keep in mind, it’s called simple syrup. It’s not hard to make.

And now you’re probably thinking: Foodie, I don’t have an ice cream freezer. It sounds so good, but I can’t possibly make mango sorbet without an ice cream freezer. Wrong, my friends. All you need for this recipe is a blender and a metal pan. (The one I use is an 8 x 8 inch square. If your pan is 9 x 9, or round instead of square, that will make no difference at all.) You can probably even get by without a blender if your mangoes are very ripe and you don’t mind employing a potato masher rather vigorously.

In other words, there’s really nothing to keep you from whipping up a delicious batch of this sorbet.  Like, right now.

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Mango Sorbet

Ingredients:

1 cup water
1 cup granulated sugar
2 mangoes
Juice of 2 Key limes

Directions:

Start off by making simple syrup. In a small saucepan, over medium heat, stir the sugar and water together until the sugar has dissolved. When the mixture comes to a boil, allow it to continue for 5 minutes—not much longer, or it will get too thick. Remove the syrup from the heat and let it cool a bit while you're working with the mangoes.

Remove the mango flesh, either by using the process outlined in the tutorial I mentioned above or by using your brand-new OXO mango splitter. Put all the mango flesh in blender and add the lime juice. Measure ½ cup of the simple syrup and add that too. Blend the mango, lime juice and syrup until you have a smooth puree. Take a taste and see if you have the right balance of sweet and tart elements. If not, feel free to add a little more syrup or lime juice. Put the remaining simple syrup in a plastic container with a lid and save it in the refrigerator.

Pour the puree into a metal baking pan and place the pan in the freezer. Be sure it's sitting on a flat surface so it freezes evenly. Set a timer for 30 minutes and, when the time goes off, take the pan out of freezer and give it a good stir. Disperse all the frozen pieces throughout the puree until the mixture is smooth again. The first time you do this, the puree may not be frozen at all; it might be frozen just around the edges. Not to worry. Re-set the timer for 30 minutes and, once again, take the pan out of the freezer when the timer goes off. Give it another good stir. This time you'll probably notice that more of the puree has frozen on the bottom of the pan, as well as along the edges. Set the timer again. Freeze. Stir. And one more time. Freeze. Stir.

If you forget to set the timer—or if you forget about the sorbet altogether—you're still okay. Just let the pan sit on the counter until the sorbet is soft enough to stir and move forward with the process. Eventually you'll end up with a very thick and frozen puree. Transfer the mixture to a plastic container with a lid and put it in the freezer to firm up. In another hour or so, your sorbet will be ready to enjoy.

This basic sorbet recipe also works for strawberries and peaches. You can substitute lemon juice for lime juice, if that sounds like a better match.


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