Tuesday, November 12, 2013
Cooking With Green Papaya: Round Two
Our papaya tree this year was laden with fruit. We ate a couple that had ripened right on the tree, and they were sweet and delicious, better than what we get at the store. Hooray! There were 14 or so more papayas clustered on that same tree, and they are the big oblong ones, for the most part (a few are more roundish).
One day last weekend I went outside to put some banana peels underneath one of them (lazy composter, I) and was dismayed to find it leaning all the way to the ground, downward on a slope. A really ripe fruit was smashed and had been nibbled on by some animal, but the others were still attached to the stem and were intact.
It was impossible to raise the trunk back up with the fruit on it..they are heavy. So I had to trim a couple leaves off and cut the rest of the fruit off. I had nothing on hand with which to prop the trunk back up, so I went to The Elephant Graveyard (currently our back porch, usually the storage room) and found something to repurpose...an over-the-toilet standing metal storage rack. I angled it in the slope to anchor against the trunk and it's holding pretty well. (Keeping it classyyy...lol)
And now I have 14 green papayas to contend with. I have no idea they'll keep without spoiling, so I'm surfing around for internet ideas (have any, anyone??) I know from last year they'll cook up like a bland squash, but I'm hoping to go beyond bland squash this year.
Round One Experiment was last night...I went Southern (veggie+cornmeal+skillet with hot oil = soul food). I peeled it, rinsed it really well, sliced into apple wedge-sized slices and did the dip-and-dunk with beaten egg/milk plus cornmeal (actually leftover cornmeal mix) plus a little plain flour and then fried in a little oil in a skillet. It was actually good, and I think next time I'll run a little squeeze of lemon over the slices beforehand to add some acid and tartness. At any rate, there were none left from the experiment.
Round Two Experiment was tonight. I sacrificed 1/2 of a second papaya to the cause. Since the green papaya has a texture similar to that of certain apples, I went for the Mock Apple Pie Filling experiment. I sliced it up, squeezed 2 lemons over, added white sugar, pinch of salt and cinnamon and baked it with a few pats of butter. The baking time takes longer, about 1 1/2 hrs, I set the temp at 350F. It came out with NO appley taste, but with a pleasant mildly tart and cinnamony taste...like apple pie filling but missing some depth of flavor, not insipid, though. But definitely good enough to eat! And it even LOOKS like apples when cooked. Good texture! Next go-round I think I'll opt for the addition of some brown sugar, maybe a little vanilla (??), some nutmeg, and maybe either some finely chopped raisins or something. I'm still thinking. I'd definitely cook the filling first and then top it later with crust...the longer baking time would probably wreak havoc on the crust otherwise. Let's see! I bet without any crust and maybe with a few cinnamon red hot candies it would make a nice "candied apples" type side dish.
Oh, and I'd thicken it for sure. It did well for a first stab.
The experiments continue, but this has promise!