Stuffed Mirlitons, Creole Style

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Yield:

    6

    Servings.

Appears in

Craig Claiborne's Southern Cooking

Craig Claiborne's Southern Cooking

By Craig Claiborne

Published 1987

  • About

Mirlitons are, to my mind, one of the most delectable of vegetables, a member of the squash family, and I find it curious that in America they are cooked and enjoyed almost exclusively in Louisiana. They are notably popular throughout the Caribbean, where they are known principally as chayote, but also as chocho, choko, and chuchu. In America they are also referred to as vegetable pears. They resemble pale green quince, although they are often likened in physical shape to an avocado or a pear. They have dozens of uses—stuffed, served cooked and chilled in salads, and so on.

Ingredients

  • 7 mirlitons (chayotes) (about ¾ pound each)
  • Salt to taste, if desired
  • ½ pound butter
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • ¾ cup finely chopped onion
  • ½ cup finely chopped sweet green pepper
  • 1 cup finely chopped celery
  • 1 cup Fish Stock
  • cups bread crumbs made from toasted bread
  • 1 cup flour, for dredging
  • 24 medium-size shrimp (about ¾ pound), peeled and deveined
  • ½ pound crabmeat, preferably lump
  • Oil for deep-frying
  • cups milk
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten

Method

  • Put the unpeeled mirlitons in a kettle and add water to cover and salt to taste, if desired. Bring to the boil and cook about 45 minutes, or until the flesh is tender when pierced with a fork. Drain.
  • When the mirlitons are cool, peel and cut them in half. Remove the inner pit or pit coating. Reserve 6 of the halves for stuffing. Cut the remaining halves into ½-inch cubes. There should be about 4 cups.
  • Heat ¼ pound butter in a skillet and add the cubed mirliton. Cook over moderately high heat, stirring often, about 12 minutes. Sprinkle with salt, if desired, and add the cayenne, black pepper, thyme, and basil.
  • Add the onion, green pepper, celery, and 4 tablespoons butter. Cook, stirring often, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the fish stock and continue cooking over moderately high heat, stirring often, about 30 minutes. When ready, the mixture will be sticking to the bottom of the skillet and will be well browned. Add cups bread crumbs and stir to blend, mashing down.
  • Put the flour on a plate and the bread crumbs on another plate. Set aside.
  • Add the raw shrimp and crab to the mirliton in the skillet. Cook, stirring gently and often, until the shrimp lose their raw look. Stir in the remaining 4 tablespoons butter.
  • Heat the oil to 360 degrees.
  • Combine the milk and eggs. Blend well.
  • Dip the mirliton halves in the flour and shake off the excess. Dip the flour-coated halves in the milk mixture to coat thoroughly. Drain off the excess. Dip the halves in the bread crumbs to coat well.
  • Drop the halves, 2 at a time, into the hot oil and cook until nicely browned and crisp, 3 to 4 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Continue until all the halves are fried.
  • Fill each hot mirliton half with an equal portion of the shrimp filling, piling it up. If desired, you may pick out the shrimp and arrange them neatly over the top. Serve immediately.