A porked papaya

Oct 21, 2008

I don’t like papaya very much.  In fact, I think that most times, the flesh of a fresh ripe papaya tastes like vomit.
So I couldn’t believe it that when I went grocery shopping at Provigo the other day I couldn’t resist buying a jumbo green papaya.  True, it was fairly cheap, 0.99$ a pound, but still.  Vomit.
Anyway, now that I had it, I wasn’t sure what to do with it.  I’ve had papaya in asian-style salads, often spicy, and didn’t mind it but, you know…
I figured there must be a way to cook it in order to make it taste better.  And since it kinda looked like a squash, I figured that I should be able to cook it the same way.  To make sure, I looked for recipe on the internet and was confirmed in my thoughts.  While I wasn’t satisfied with what I found, it was certainly enough to inspire me.  Here is the original recipe.

I didn’t quite like the idea of ground beef and papaya. I thought the beef would be to strong of a taste for the papaya.  And I also thought it needed more exoticism. So here is what I did:

Pork Stuffed Baked Papayas Ingredients

2 jumbo green papayas
1 onion, chopped
2 tsp of garlic, finely chopped
1 lb of ground pork
1 Jalapeno, chopped
1 can of diced tomatoes, drained except for 1/4 cup of juice
1/2 tsp of pickapeppa sauce
1/2 tsp of tabasco sauce
1 tamarillo, diced
2 Tbs fresh lemon balm, chopped

grated parmesan

Sweat onions and then add garlic in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat.  Add pork.  When almost cooked, add the jalapeno pepper, the sauces, salt and pepper to taste.  Then stir in the diced tomatoes and the tomato juice.  Finally, add the tamarillo and the lemon balm.

Slightly increase the heat, let it simmer uncovered, until most of the liquid is evaporated, about 10-15 minutes.

Pre-heat the over to 350 degrees.  Cut papayas lengthwise into halves and remove seeds.  Reserve two table spoon of the seeds and add to the stuffing preparation.  Fill up the papaya halves with the prepartion. Arrange in a shallow baking dish.  Pour hot water into dish to within 1 inch of tops of papaya halves. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees until papayas are very tender and hot, about 30 minutes.  Reduce heat, add parmesan cheese on top to taste, let it brown slightly.

Et voila!

I used Pickapappa sauce, which is made in Jamaica by the Pickapeppa Co. Ltd. It can be used for any jerk-style preparation, to add a very authentic twist to your caribbean meals.  I added it here because I thought it would go well with the papaya and the tamarillo.

Talking of tamarillo, it is an exotic fruit from the Andes.  It is also known as Tree Tomato for some odd reason.  It is a bit expensive, but it has a very unique flavor and I figured it would give an extra exotic twist to the dish.

When I thought about making, this dish, I first had coriander in mind.  Papaya and coriander seems to mix well. Alas, no fresh coriander at IGA when I went to get the meat today, but they did have lemon balm.  I decided to give it a try, thinking that the lemon freshness of the herb would mary well with the pepperness of the papaya.

Melissa thought it was really good and ate everything on her plate… yummy was her comment! (for the record, she did not eat everything, i.e. the skin of the papaya, but that goes without saying).

Personally, I am quite satisfied with this recipe, it could have been spicier, by adding either more jalapeno pepper or even more papaya seeds.  Or perhaps, more hot sauce. Nevertheless, it was pretty darn good!  The pork is a mild enough meat that is doesn’t overpower the subtle but delicious mix of tamarillo, tomatoes and lemon balm.  But, be careful with the garlic as it is meant to add depth to the dish not to predominate. I can think of different variations, for instance, ground pork or ham and pineapple comes to mind, or ground turkey with mango.  Let me know if you experiment.

Melissa and I enjoyed this pork stuffed baked papaya with a bottle of Henri-Charles DeNoiret – an inexpensive but enjoyable table wine.  It is a dry red wine, fairly round with a good balance.

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