Dishing Up Multipurpose Mangos

While most people are familiar with mangos, many still don't cook with them at home.

However, Daisy Martinez, host of Food Network's "Viva Daisy!" believes those folks are missing out.

Mangos, she said on "The Early Show" Tuesday, are a truly versatile food. And while they're delicious eaten with your hands, Martinez encourages home cooks to experiment a bit, adding mangos to salads, smoothies, cobblers and more.

Mangos are in-season now, and Martinez says you can often buy a package of six at major box stores for a really good price. Several varieties of mangos are available, and they come in a range of colors, she said, so don't use color to judge if the fruit is ripe. Instead, look for a fruit that feels heavy in your hand and has a bit of give when you press on it. Perhaps most importantly, though, Martinez says, "A good mango is very fragrant, smells floral, and makes your mouth water!"

Mangos have a large, elongated pit in the center, so you have to carefully cut around it when prepping the fruit for cooking.


Avocado Stuffed with Crab-Mango Salad

1 lime, zest finely grated, lime cut in 1/2
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves
1/2 mango, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice (about 1 cup)
1/3 cup diced (1/4-inch) red bell peppers
1/3 cup diced (1/4-inch) red onion
1/2 jalapeno, stemmed and cut into small dice (about 2 tablespoons)
1/2 pound jumbo lump crabmeat
3 Hass avocados

Squeeze the juice from 1 half of the lime into a bowl. Add the olive oil and cilantro and whisk well. Add the mango, red pepper, onion, jalapeno, and lime zest and toss to coat. Gently stir in the crabmeat to keep it from breaking up. Set aside while preparing the avocados.

Cut the avocados in half and remove pit. Squeeze the remaining lime half over the avocado flesh, using the lime half to spread it evenly, in order to keep them from turning black.

Toss the crab salad, check for seasoning, and mound into the avocado halves, dividing it evenly. (Use an ice cream scoop for neat, even rounds, if that's your thing.) Serve right away.

TIP: To keep the avocado from sliding around the plate, cut a thin sliver of skin from the rounded side before filling the avocados. That flat portion will help keep the avocado steady on the plate.

Variation: For a more dramatic presentation (one more suitable for a sit-down dinner party than a weeknight supper, perhaps) present the salad as a "stack," that is, layer the ingredients in a ring mold (similar to a biscuit cutter without the handle). Instead of serving the salad in the pitted avocado, peel and pit the avocados, then cut them into 3/4-inch dice. Toss them with a little lime juice to keep them from turning dark. Make the crab salad. Place the ring mold over the center of the plate and put the equivalent of half a diced avocado in an even layer in the mold. Tamp it down gently. Top with one-sixth of the crab salad and tamp down gently. Lift the mold carefully and the ingredients will remain in place on the plate.

Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Inactive Prep Time:
Ease of preparation: easy

Breaded Pork Chops

8 (1-inch thick) loin pork chops (about 4 pounds)
Fine sea or kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups seasoned bread crumbs
Canola or vegetable oil

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Pat the pork chops dry with paper towels. Season both sides generously with salt and pepper. Beat the eggs in a shallow bowl until foamy. Spread the flour and bread crumbs out in 2 separate shallow bowls. Dredge a chop in the flour to coat all sides. Tap off any excess flour. Coat a chop with egg and let it drain for a second or so over the bowl. Lay it in the bread crumbs and turn a couple of times, patting the crumbs onto the chop to adhere. Set the chop on a baking sheet and repeat with the remaining chops.

Pour 1/2-inch of canola oil into a large, wide skillet. Heat over medium heat until the tip of the handle of a wooden spoon gives off a lively sizzle (about 375 degrees F). Add half the pork chops to the oil and cook, turning once, until golden brown on both sides, about 4 minutes. Transfer to an 11 by 15-inch baking dish or any baking dish that holds all the chops snugly, overlapping them along 1 side of the pan. Repeat with the remaining chops. Bake until no trace of pink remains near the bone, about 25 minutes. Serve right away with the Mango and Black Bean Salad.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Ease of preparation: easy