Until quite recently, the best cuts of meat went to the wealthiest. Other cuts of meat were less tender. Chuck, round, flank and shin cuts of beef were often all that was available, as were the shoulder of sheep and pig, and the meat of goats (notoriously tough). It didn’t take that long before people began to find that a little papaya made these tougher chunks of meat much softer. Papaya contains the enzyme papain, which breaks down meat fibers, leaving it much tenderer. Today, papain is commercially sold as a meat tenderizer, though cooking papaya with your meat is still tastier.
This is another one-pot recipe that makes cooking in a tight galley a snap.
- 1 small papaya, peeled and sliced. Remove the seeds and set aside.
- 1 1/2 lb beef, lamb or pork.
- 3 Tablespoons achiote oil
- 3 medium yellow onions
- 1 large tomato, peeled and chopped
- 1 cup cooked lentils or small beans
- 1 teaspoon tamarind concentrate (optional)
- Salt, black and chili peppers to taste
- Spread papaya on a plate, cover with meat, then lay the rest of the papaya on top. Place in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours.
- Spread the oil on the bottom of a large pot. Spread the onion on the bottom and lay the steaks over the onion. Cover the steaks with papaya and place tomato on top.
- Cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until the meat is tender. Check the liquid, and add some water if there is not enough.
- Spread the lentils over the top. Cover and simmer for 15 more minutes. Remove the cover and add the papaya seeds and tamerind. Add salt and peppers. If needed, add a bit of water.