Writing Texas Eats was a lot of fun. I learned a lot about Texas food history in the 1800s, a time that some food historians think was the heyday of American cooking. One of the biggest surprises was the history of the Menger Hotel and its restaurant. It was considered the best food West of the Mississippi in the era of the railroad. And some of the things served there were amazing. There is a complete menu from a banquet held by Teddy Roosevelt for veterans of the Rough Riders reprinted in the book.
And then there’s the mango ice cream. There is a photo of Bill Clinton eating mango ice cream in the lobby of hotel. This mango ice cream was probably the most famous dessert in Texas at the turn of the last century and its still so famous that in 1994, a visiting politician wanted to be photographed eating some.
From Texas Eats: The New Lone Star Heritage Cookbook: Historic Fine Dining: The Old Menger Hotel
The mango ice cream was slick in texture owing to the abundance of rich tropical fruit. Ted Lopez, the head chef of the Colonial Dining Room at the Menger Hotel, told me that it was actually halfway between an ice cream and a sherbet and that the dessert had been on the menu for over a hundred years. I am guessing that the pastel walls of the Colonial Dining Room were painted to match the color of its famous ice cream.
Over the years, this dining room has served such notables as Ulysses S. Grant, Robert E. Lee, Sarah Bernhardt and Presidents Harding, Taft, and McKinley…
Recipe after the jump
Mango Ice Cream
2 large ripe mangos (or about 2 cups of pulp)
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 cups whole milk
5 egg yolks
1 cup whipping cream
Working over a non-metallic bowl to catch the juice, peel the mango and cut the fruit away from the pit. Chop large pieces into quarter inch dice. Add half a cup of sugar and lime juice to the fruit. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. Whisk egg yolks and three quarters cup sugar in a bowl until the sugar dissolves. Make a custard by scalding the milk in a large saucepan and pouring it into the egg mixture in a thin stream while whisking. Pour the milk and egg mixture into the saucepan and cook over medium heat, uncovered, until thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon, about 3 minutes. Do not let it boil. Pour the custard into a bowl, and let it cool.
Stir the mango mixture into the custard mixture. Stir in the cream. Taste for sweetness and add more sugar if desired.
Freeze in an ice cream maker, following the manufacturer’s instructions.
Makes about 1 1/2 quarts.