After about six weeks of working in a professional kitchen I have come to the realization that almost every day is an episode of “Chopped.” There is produce to use while still in its prime, meat and fish overage from the retail sales case to turn into something spectacular and just the general need to offer variety for frequent customers. This demand for creativity and spontaneity is actually the part of my job that I love most. I realize that I’ve been playing this game at home for years. Never having been one to shop with a list, I tend to open my refrigerator to see what needs to be used next and then decide how to prepare it. In a professional kitchen this “game” is elevated by convection ovens, fryers, flat tops and grills that are always at optimum temperature and ready to go.
This Mango Habanero Barbecue Sauce was born out of a mistaken delivery of a case of habanero peppers. The produce guy decided to let us keep the peppers rather than deal with the hassle of a return. I knew that the intense level of heat would need to be balanced with something sweet so I searched for a recipe that would do just that. This barbecue sauce achieves an ideal balance.
While you may think of barbecue sauce as more of a summer cookout item, I encourage you to give this sauce a try now because it keeps well in the fridge and is perfect on oven-baked chicken breasts, which cook quickly and make for a great week night meal. If you happen to live near Potomac Grocer, you can find these in the case a couple of days a week and save yourself the time of making the sauce at home. Either way, I encourage you to cook Chopped-style at home and let the creativity flow. Enjoy!
- 1 Tbls vegetable oil
- 1 small onion, minced (about 1/2 c)
- 2 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 2 tsp)
- 1 tsp grated ginger
- 1 1/2 c roughly chopped peeled fresh mango (I used 1 mango)
- 2 c tomato juice
- 1/3 c dark brown sugar
- 1/3 c honey
- 1/3 c cider vinegar
- 2 Tbls molasses
- 2 Tbls fresh juice from about 2 limes
- 1 Tbls Worcestershire sauce
- 1 Tbls yellow mustard
- 2 tsp finely chopped habanero chiles, seeded (about 2 chilis)*
- 2 tsp Kosher salt
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- Heat oil in medium saucepan over medium heat until shimmering.
- Add onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
- Add garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Stir in mangoes, tomato juice, brown sugar, honey, vinegar, molasses, lime juice, Worcestershire, mustard, habanero, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer until mangos have completely softened and sauce has slightly thickened, about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Puree sauce in a blender, until smooth.
- Let cool to room temperature, transfer to a jar and store in refrigerator for up to a month.
- *You may want to wear gloves when dealing with habaneros or at the very least be careful not to touch your eyes.
- Preheat oven to 400F.
- Place chicken breasts on a prepared baking sheet and rub with some barbecue sauce.
- Bake for about 20 minutes or until a meat thermometer reads 160F (the temperature will rise another 5 degrees after being removed from the oven).
- Brush with some more barbecue sauce. Let rest 10 minutes and enjoy.