Chayote shells are stuffed with a flavorful ground-beef filling and baked until piping hot. Serve as a main course with a tossed green salad.
4 small chayotes (about 6 ounces each)
4 slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 ribs celery, coarsely chopped
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 green bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced or pressed
1 pound ground beef
1 can (28 ounces) Italian tomatoes, undrained
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, grated
1 large egg
2/2 cup unseasoned bread crumbs
1. Drop the chayotes into a large pot of boiling, salted water and cook, uncovered, at a gentle bubble for 30 minutes or until tender when pierced. Lift out with a slotted spoon and submerge in cold water.
2. When the chayotes are cool enough to handle, cut them in half lengthwise. Remove the seeds and any whitish membrane. Scoop out the chayote flesh, leaving the shells about 1/4-inch thick. Coarsely chop the chayote flesh and set aside.
3. Fry the bacon until crisp. Transfer it to absorbent paper to drain. Add the celery, onion, green bell pepper, and garlic to the bacon fat, tossing to coat. Stir over medium heat until the onion is wilted. Add the ground beef and continue cooking until the beef is no longer pink. Stir in the tomatoes and chopped chayotes. Add the oregano, salt, and pepper. Cook over medium heat until all the liquid is evaporated and the mixture begins to stick to the bottom of the pan. Transfer to/a large bowl and immediately stir in the bacon and two-thirds of the Monterey Jack cheese.
4. Preheat the oven to 350*. Generously butter a shallow baking dish. In a separate bowl, beat the egg and stir in the bread crumbs. Add the beef mixture and blend well. Spoon into the chayote shells. Distribute the remaining cheese over the topS and place in the prepared baking dish. Bake, uncovered, for 20 to 30 minutes or until the topS are nicely browned.