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Shrimp Stuffed Mirlitons

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    Posted: 27 October 2015 at 09:31
After years of telling myself I needed to start using chayote squash, I finally broke down and tried them in a Mexican dish (http://www.foodsoftheworld.activeboards.net/spicy-grilled-shrimp-stew_topic4485.html). Now I regret all those wasted years.

Chayote goes my several names. They're called “alligator pears” in some parts of the country. In Louisiana, where they’re a mainstay, they’re called “mirlitons,” and are used in everything from salads to main courses. Here’s one example:

SHRIMP-STUFFED MIRLITONS

1 tbls Cajun seasoning #2     
4 large mirlitons
4 tbls butter, divided use     
1 onion, chopped
1 tbls minced garlic      
½ cup chopped red bell pepper
¾ lb shrimp, shelled and deveined     
1 ¼ cups seasoned breadcrumbs*
1 egg, beaten     
¼ cup chopped parsley

To a large pot add enough water to cover the mirlitons. Bring to boil. Add a couple of pinches salt and the mirlitons. Cook until mirlitons are tender, about 45 minutes. Remove from pot, drain, and cut in half lengthwise. Remove the seeds. With a teaspoon remove the flesh, leaving about ¼ inch border. Chop flesh coarsely.
In a large skillet, melt 3 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and bell pepper. Cook until just tender. Add the shrimp and cook until they start to turn pink. Add the mirliton flesh, breadcrumbs, and seasoning. Cook another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Let cool off heat. Mix in the egg and parsley and combine well.

Fill the mirliton shells with the stuffing, mounding it slightly. Sprinkle with additional breadcrumbs and dot with butter. Transfer to a well-greased baking pan.

Bake at 375F until tops are golden brown, about 20 minutes.

*Add 2 tbls seasoning mix to 1 cup breadcrumbs.

There are dozens of Cajun and Creole seasoning mixes. You can go with a commercial version, such as Tony Chachere’s, or do what every Cajun housewife does and mix your own. Indeed, a Cajun cook might have several slightly differing versions, depending on the dish being prepared. Here’s one that works well with these stuffed mirlitons:

CAJUN SEASONING #2

2 tsp dried thyme     
2 tsp dried sweet basil
2 tsp dried parsley     
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sweet paprika     
1 tsp garlic granules
1 tsp onion salt     
½ tsp cayenne
½ tsp black pepper     
½ tsp white pepper

Mix all ingredients until fully combined. Store in an airtight container.

But we hae meat and we can eat
And sae the Lord be thanket
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pitrow Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 October 2015 at 09:41
Sounds good! What does the militon taste like? I'd assume similar to other squash? I'm not sure I've ever seen one around here, but I'll have to look. 
Mike
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 October 2015 at 18:19
Hard to describe, Mike. To me it like a cross between a cucumber and a zucchini.

That doesn't quite say it, though. It's mild tasting, with a soft (when cooked) texture. More melon-like than squash-like.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drinks Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 October 2015 at 10:40
Just do not expect it to taste as though it is any of the usual squash.
I have tried it, I really do not know how to describe the texture and taste.
I shall not bother with it again.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 October 2015 at 19:11
Each to his own, Drinks. I find them well worth the effort.

You’re certainly right that they’re unlike any other squash in both texture and taste. The flesh is creamier, more like a cucumber than a squash, and, unlike some of the summer squashes, such as zucchini (which I find tasteless), they have a distinct flavor profile of their own.

Closest I can come to describing them is to compare them to cooked cucumber. Trouble is, Americans, as a rule, no longer cook cukes. That used to be quite common, back in the 18th century, and still is in Europe.

Here’s one example, taken from A Colonial Virginia Book of Cookery:

Stewed Cucumbers

3 cucumbers, sliced thick
Course salt
3 onions, sliced thin
6 slices bacon
¼ lb (one stick) butter
3 tbls flour
1 tbls dry mustard
Salt & pepper to taste

Sprinkle cucumbers heavily with course salt. Transfer to a colander and let drain at least half an hour.

Cook bacon until crisp, reserving fat. Crumble bacon and set aside.

Rinse cucumbers and pat dry. Cook the cukes and onions in bacon fat (adding more if need) until browned. Drain on paper towels. Pour fat from pan.

Return cuke mixture to pan. Add four to six tablespoons water, the mustard, butter, flour, salt and pepper. Let stew until tender

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Hoser Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 October 2015 at 01:35
Thanks for the cucumber recipe Brook....I've often toyed with the idea of cooking them.
Have you made this particular recipe yourself?
If so....how would you rate it?
Go ahead...play with your food!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 October 2015 at 05:31
Made it many times, Dave. Don't forget, I'm the author of that book, and all the recipes were not only adapted, but proved three ways (hearth, open fire, and stove top)

I slice the cukes at least an inch thick when making this dish.

I really like it. Just be sure to use real cukes, not the English hothouse ones---which, in my opinion, rank up there with zucchini for lack of flavor.

I should have mentioned that, I reckon. Plus it's important to discard the seeds and gel, cuz they can cause bitterness.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 October 2015 at 06:08
Here’s another recipe, Dave. This one is a bit more complex, but the results are worthwhile. Unfortunately, due to space and balance issues, it didn’t make it into either of our cookbooks.

A couple of comments:

1: In the 18th century the cukes would have been left whole, with the seed mass hollowed out using a long-handled spoon. The spade-bit thing would probably work for this as well, but I reckon it would be a bit messy. Splitting the cukes, then tying them together is easier, but the presentation isn’t as nice.

2. If you use the small pickling cukes, instead of standard slicers, and hollow them correctly, you’d have a nice first course as well as a side dish.

To Farce (Stuff) Cucumbers

3 medium to large cukes
1 small cabbage (about 2 ½ lbs) boiled tender (takes about 45 minutes)
1 large onion, chopped fine
2 tbls parsley, minced
2 hard cooked eggs, chopped fine
1 tsp ground nutmeg
Salt & pepper to taste
¼ cup or more butter
1 cup pickled mushrooms

For the sauce:

½ cup red wine
½ cup boiling water
1 small onion, minced
Salt and pepper
1 walnut-sized knob of butter, softened
1 tbls flour
2 egg yolks, beaten

Have the sauce ready: Knead the butter and flour to combine well. Whisk the wine, boiling water, onion, salt, pepper, and flour/butter mixture until combined evenly. .

Peel the cucumbers. Prepare as above, either hollowed or split & cleaned. If splitting, keep the matching halves together.

Remove the hearts (i.e. the thick stems) from the cabbage leaves. Chop the hearts fine, saving the balance of the cabbage for another use. Combine with the onion, parsley, mushrooms, and hard cooked eggs. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.

Fill the cucumber cavities with the stuffing, match the halves, and tie with kitchen twine. Fry the cucumbers in butter until browned. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

Combine two or three tablespoons of the sauce with the beaten egg yolks. Put the rest of the sauce in the skillet used to fry the cucumbers. Bring to a boil. Add the egg mixture, stirring constantly, until thickened.

Pour the sauce into a serving platter or individual plates. Set the fried cucumbers on the sauce.

Enjoy!

But we hae meat and we can eat
And sae the Lord be thanket
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