There are times when I look in my fridge & cupboards I think to myself, WHY don’t I just succumb to the call of Taco Bell’s value menu or something equally cheap & bad for me? It truly would be a lot easier than trying to think of what to make out of some canned goods and frozen fruit. However, it’s not a very satisfying meal that one gets from fast food places serving tons of empty calories. And with fruit showing up all over the place in savory dishes, as well as the added good fortune of having a perfect blend of savory ingredients and the proper fruit, I knew I could save myself the money and potentially clogged arteries by getting super creative.
I want to apologize once again for the lack of a decent picture to go w/this recipe (not anymore! The picture’s finally here!). Once it’s finished the colors are truly gorgeous and you can almost taste the explosion of flavors just by looking at a bowl of this stew. This is probably the most exotic & creative I’ve gotten w/a couple cans of beans, but as I’ve said before a little imagination and a well-stocked spice pantry go a long way when you’re on a limited budget. A couple of things to note: I had frozen mango on hand (I like to use it in smoothies) but if you have an actual fresh mango or two, by all means use it! I also tend to prefer thigh meat over breast meat since it has more flavor, but if you’re like most Americans and can only do white meat, it will also work out just fine. (Trader Joe’s offers a great deal on fresh frozen boneless, skinless thighs for $6.49 for 2 or 3 lbs worth. I highly recommend them!) This stew is definitely hearty enough to stand alone, but it also goes really well on top of some rice, cous cous, or any other yummy grain you can find. And without further ado, here’s the recipe.
Black Bean, Chicken and Mango Stew
2-3 large boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2/3 c fresh or thawed frozen mango, chopped
1/2 small yellow onion, finely chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1 T crushed garlic
1/2 T sea salt
1 T garlic salt
1 heaping T cumin
1 t cayenne pepper
2 T brown sugar
1/3 c chicken broth (water will also do if you don’t have broth)
Splash of olive oil
3 green onions, chopped
1/4 c cilantro, chopped
Sprinkle part of the garlic salt & cumin onto both of the chicken thighs while heating a healthy glug of olive oil in a skillet. When oil is hot (not burned), add chicken and reduce heat to low; cover chicken. Cook for about 7 minutes on each side or until chicken is no longer pink when you cut its thickest parts. While chicken is cooking, toss mango in brown sugar and set aside.
In the meantime, lightly drain the beans but reserve at least half of the liquid so that there is enough for the actual stew. In a large pot heat 2 T olive oil and brown the garlic and onion, cumin and cayenne pepper, remaining salts and bell pepper until onion is clear, but not burned. Add beans and reduce heat to medium low to let all flavors incorporate. When chicken is completely cooked, set on a plate and allow to cool at least 5 minutes (or until cool enough to handle) and cut into bite sized pieces (I do this after cooking as opposed to before, to ensure the meat has had the chance to cook w/enough juices; otherwise, it will be too dry). Add mango and chicken to bean & spice mixture and let simmer for at least 10-12 minutes. Add green onions, then toss in cilantro at the very end. Serve over cous cous or brown rice, or in a large mug on its own. Enjoy!