An expatriate of New Orleans – and professional chef – who has lived in Los Angeles since her childhood, blogs about the journey from New Orleans to Los Angeles back to New Orleans, and points along the way.

”Facebook ”Twitter ”LinkedIn ”RSS” ”Pinterest” ”Google+”

Stuffed Mirlitons (aka Chayotes)

By on Dec 20, 2016, 2:43 pm in Recipes-Savory | 0 comments

stuffed-mirlitons

 

There are three items you’ll find on almost every holiday table throughout the city of New Orleans. They are oysters, sweet potatoes and mirlitons. In fact, mirlitons and sweet potatoes become loss leaders in the every grocery stores from the week before Thanksgiving until Christmas. The first two will probably come as no surprise to you, but some of you may even be asking yourself,  “just what the heck is a mirliton”? For my So Cal friends, they are pretty indistinguishable from chayote (and in the Caribbean they are known as christophines) although a few years back, following the BP Gulf Oil spill, I learned from Slow Food’s list of indigenous Gulf foods at risk, that although they are very closely related, chayotes are spiny and mirlitons are smooth skinned. Nowadays that distinction is lost in typical grocery shopping.

Most commonly, the mirlitons would be served individually stuffed – at least that was the traditional way – although some now, in order to save time I imagine, will serve the stuffing as a casserole without bothering to do the work of stuffing each vegetable shell.

A side note – several years back when I was researching traditional Spanish tapas for a client’s birthday party, I was pleasantly surprised to learn how important little stuffed vegetables were in that cuisine. About a year before that, I had the opportunity to chat with southern Louisiana chef, Teryl Jackson, former chef at the renown Cajun restaurant Prejean’s, and now a culinary consultant who told me in his opinion, that one of two key differences between Creole food and Cajun, was the use of vegetables in Creole cuisine, especially side dish creations using seasonal vegetables – just like these little stuffed mirlitons. You’ll also traditionally find eggplant, peppers, artichokes, even tomatoes served stuffed and cooked in the cuisine. I put two and two together, and delightedly came to the conclusion that I had stumbled on a direct Spanish influence on Creole cuisine – one not discussed nearly as much as the French, African and even Native American influences. Which leads to another little discussed fact – for as long as New Orleans has existed, its citizens have preferred identifying with the French, while in actuality, New Orleans was a Spanish colony for at least as long as it was a French colony. Okay – I know it may seem weird, but little findings like this make me happy. And I’ve digressed…

My Uncle Reiss likes to say that we cooked our vegetables three times here, and indeed these are. The mirlitons are halved and cooked in the oven to soften the inner meat, which is then scooped out and cooked with the aromatics, meat and seafood, then stuffed into shells and baked again. Most often, the mirlitons are stuffed with shrimp (which are in such abundant supply here) combined with diced ham. I made them recently to take to a last minute Thanksgiving meal, and used what I had on hand- which was crab meat – not bad, either, or you can go a little wild and use both shrimp and crabmeat.

I hope you’ll give these a try- and you don’t have to wait for the holidays.

P.S. If you want to try a couple of really wonderful sweet potato dishes for your holiday meal, here are a couple that can’t be beat:

Candied Yams (the more traditional dish)

and Sweet Potato Purée with Pecan Praline Topping (an updated creative take on tradition)

Stuffed Mirlitons

Yield: 4 servings

Serving Size: 2 halves

Ingredients

  • 4 mirlitons
  • 1 tablespoon each vegetable oil and bacon fat
  • 1 cup onions, medium dice
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup ham, cubed
  • 3/4 cup crabmeat
  • 1 tablespoon parsley, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian herb seasoning
  • A pinch of cayenne
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • @ 1 cup bread crumbs ( I used Panko - not traditional - but any fresh breadcrumbs will work)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cut the mirlitons in half lengthwise and remove the seed. Place them face down in a baking dish. Add @1/3 cup of water to the pan. Cover it tightly with foil and place in the oven until the mirlitons are tender, about 20-30 minutes.
  3. Heat the oil and bacon fat in a medium skillet, then add the onion cooking until wilted. Then stir in the ham, garlic, thyme, parsley, black pepper, cayenne and Italian seasoning cooking until very lightly browned, about another minute or two.
  4. Remove the mirlitons from the oven, allowing them to cool slightly. When they are cool enough to handle, gently scoop out the mirlitons "meat" leaving an @ 1/4 inch rim of the squash to hold the filling. Chop the scooped out meat finely, then add it to the other filling ingredients in the pan, cooking for another couple of minutes. Then gently stir in the crabmeat.
  5. Brush the bottom of the scooped out mirliton shells with melted butter, then stuff the filling into them.
  6. Toss the breadcrumbs with @ 2 tablespoons of melted butter, then top the stuffed mirlitons with the breadcrumbs, placing them back in the baking pan.
  7. Bake them in the oven for about 25 minutes, then turn on the broiler for a minute or two to brown the breadcrumbs. Serve hot.
Schema/Recipe SEO Data Markup by Yummly Rich Recipes
http://www.painperdublog.com/2016/12/stuffed-mirlitons-chayotes.html
Stuffed Mirlitons

Yield: 4 servings

Serving Size: 2 halves

Ingredients

  • 4 mirlitons
  • 1 tablespoon each vegetable oil and bacon fat
  • 1 cup onions, medium dice
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup ham, cubed
  • 3/4 cup crabmeat
  • 1 tablespoon parsley, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian herb seasoning
  • A pinch of cayenne
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • @ 1 cup bread crumbs ( I used Panko - not traditional - but any fresh breadcrumbs will work)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cut the mirlitons in half lengthwise and remove the seed. Place them face down in a baking dish. Add @1/3 cup of water to the pan. Cover it tightly with foil and place in the oven until the mirlitons are tender, about 20-30 minutes.
  3. Heat the oil and bacon fat in a medium skillet, then add the onion cooking until wilted. Then stir in the ham, garlic, thyme, parsley, black pepper, cayenne and Italian seasoning cooking until very lightly browned, about another minute or two.
  4. Remove the mirlitons from the oven, allowing them to cool slightly. When they are cool enough to handle, gently scoop out the mirlitons "meat" leaving an @ 1/4 inch rim of the squash to hold the filling. Chop the scooped out meat finely, then add it to the other filling ingredients in the pan, cooking for another couple of minutes. Then gently stir in the crabmeat.
  5. Brush the bottom of the scooped out mirliton shells with melted butter, then stuff the filling into them.
  6. Toss the breadcrumbs with @ 2 tablespoons of melted butter, then top the stuffed mirlitons with the breadcrumbs, placing them back in the baking pan.
  7. Bake them in the oven for about 25 minutes, then turn on the broiler for a minute or two to brown the breadcrumbs. Serve hot.
Schema/Recipe SEO Data Markup by Yummly Rich Recipes
http://www.painperdublog.com/2016/12/stuffed-mirlitons-chayotes.html

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: