Chayote, a gourdlike, pale green, delectable fruit about the size and shape of a large, scraggly pear, is called mirliton in Louisiana, where, as in Florida, it flourishes and is much loved. Over the years in New Orleans and around Cajun country, I’ve eaten mirliton fried, stuffed with seafood, and incorporated into salads, but since the fruit itself is pretty bland, it makes lots of sense to combine it with other ingredients, as in this popular curried casserole served at brunches throughout Louisiana. Just ten years ago, yellow squash, zucchini, or eggplant would have to have been substituted for the mirlitons outside the region, but now that chayotes (often called “vegetable pears”) are widely available in markets (especially during the winter months), there’s no excuse for not aiming for authenticity.
In a large saucepan, melt the butter over moderate heat, add the flour and salt and pepper, and whisk till the mixture bubbles. Add the broth and whisk till well blended and smooth. Add the cream, curry powder, brown sugar, and lemon juice and stir till well blended. Add the shrimp, stir, and remove from the heat.
In a small skillet, heat the oil over moderate heat, add the onion and green pepper,
Layer half the mirlitons over the bottom of the prepared casserole, layer half the onion and green pepper evenly over the mirlitons, and spoon half the cooked shrimp mixture over the top. Repeat with the remaining mirlitons; onion and green pepper; and shrimp mixture. Cover the casserole, and
Meanwhile, in a small mixing bowl, toss the bread crumbs and cheese with the melted butter. Spread evenly over top of the casserole and continue to
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