What's the best way to cut a mango in perfect cubes – without peeling it first, and with absolutely no hassle?
Hint: NOT the way I've just started in the picture above.
Thanks to Susan Reid, a CIA-trained chef and my fellow test-kitchen baker, I now know the most efficient, effective way to prepare a mango for serving.
And I've been practicing a lot lately, as one of my very favorite fruits – Ataulfo mangoes (a.k.a. Champagne mangoes) – is in season.
If you've never tasted this super-sweet, creamy mango, run – don't walk – to your nearest supermarket and pick some up. They're generally available late April to early August, so their season is shorter than the more common year-round varieties.
Identify an Ataulfo mango by its flattened appearance, and golden (not green or red) skin. Inside, its flesh is bright gold, and firm/creamy; not at all the coarse/stringy texture of a typical mango.
And flavor? There's not a sweeter fruit anywhere. Think perfectly ripened peach, with hints of citrus.
Anyway, enough with the rapturous compliments. Let's cut up a mango.
Take your ripe mango (the skin will be yellow-gold, not green), and turn it on its side. An Ataulfo will naturally rest on one of its flat sides; you want to turn it so a narrow side faces up.
Take a sharp or serrated knife, and make a vertical slice just slightly to the right of center. As you slice, try (by feel) to come as close as possible to the large flat pit inside; angle the knife around it.
Remove the first slice, and repeat, cutting past the pit on the other side. You'll now have two nice fat pit-less slices; and a flat pit surrounded with a thin layer of flesh (center, bottom photo).
Working with one fleshy slice at a time, score in cubes to (but not through) the skin.
Gently press the skin inside-out, so the cubes separate.
Use a knife or spoon to cut them off the skin.
Peel the skin away from the pit; it'll come off in a long strip. Use your knife to carve any remaining meaty pieces away from the pit. Add them to your bowl of cubes.
Oh, and don't forget to nibble as much remaining flesh off the pit as possible, before composting; you don't want to miss any of that juicy sweetness!
Now you're ready to make easy mango sorbet (above)...
...or rich, creamy mango gelato.