Recipes such as this date to the slave era. At the time, what little meat was available to slaves usually was the toughest cuts. Some slave cooks used papayas, which are rich in enzymes, to tenderize the meat
• 1 large ripe papaya, peeled, seeded and sliced
• 3 pounds round steak, cut into 6 steaks
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 1 medium yellow onion, sliced
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
• 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
• 1 large tomato, peeled* and chopped
• 1 (16-ounce) can lentils
Arrange half the papaya slices over the bottom of nonreactive baking dish. Lay the steaks over the papaya, then top the meat with the remaining papaya slices. Cover and refrigerate 3 hours.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Coat a second nonreactive baking dish with the olive oil, then arrange the onion slices over the bottom. Remove the steaks from the refrigerator and season them with salt, pepper and Worcestershire sauce.
Lay the steaks over the onion slices, then top with the papaya slices and chopped tomatoes. Tightly cover the baking dish with foil, then bake 30 minutes until the meat is tender. Remove the dish from the oven and top with the lentils. Return to the oven and bake, uncovered, 10 minutes. Makes 6 servings.
Per serving: 423 calories, 29 percent calories from fat, 14 grams total fat, 4 grams saturated fat, 148 milligrams cholesterol, 18 grams carbohydrates, 6 grams total fiber, 6 grams total sugars, 12 grams net carbs, 55 grams protein, 563 milligrams sodium.
*To peel tomatoes: Place tomato in boiling water 15 seconds until skin loosens. Drain and run under cold water. Slip off skin.
Adapted from The New African-American Kitchen (Lake Isle Press, 2008) by Angela Shelf Medearis.