A 5-6 lb papaya cut lengthwise into halves and seeded
1½ Tbl vegetable oil
1 lb lean ground beef
½ cup finely chopped onions
½ tsp finely chopped garlic
4 medium-sized firm ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and finely chopped or substitute 1½ cups chopped drained canned tomatoes
½ tsp finely chopped fresh chillies (optional)
½ tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbl freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Pre-heat oven to 350ºF. In a heavy 10-12" skillet heat the oil over moderate heat until a light haze forms above it. Drop in the onions and garlic and, stirring frequently, cook for about 5 minutes until they are soft and transparent but not brown. Stir in the beef and, mashing it with a spoon to break up any lumps, cook until all traces of pink disappear. Add the tomatoes, chillies, salt and a few grindings of pepper. Stir occasionally and taste for seasoning. Drain fat.
Spoon the meat mixture into the papaya shells, spreading and smoothing the filling with a spatula. Place the shells side by side in a shallow roasting pan. Set the pan in the middle of the oven and pour in enough boiling water to come about 1" up the sides of the papayas. Bake for 1 hour, then sprinkle each shell with cheese and bake for 30 minutes, or until the papaya shows no resistance when pierced with the point of a small knife and the top is delicately browned.
To serve, transfer the papaya shells to a large heated platter and sprinkle with cheese. Serves 6 to 8.
NOTE: Mary Dawes uses a ground beef, ground mild pork mixture and adds breadcrumbs.
DATE: July 1981
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