MawMaw's Stuffed Mirlitons

Mirlitons, also called chayote squash or vegetable pear in other parts of the world, are a delicious vegetable (actually, they're technically a frui) with a mild, delicate squashlike flavor. They're very popular in New Orleans, and grow like wildfire; anyone who has mirlitons growing in their backyard is invariably always giving away bushels of them.

And no, this ain't my maw-maw's stuffed mirlitons -- this comes to us from New Orleanian and regular Gumbo Pages correspondent Greg Beron, who advises:

"This recipe is intended to serve from 2-8 people. Eating the entire portion by yourself may be tempting, but is likely to result in gastric distress. Please think of others. They need the Emergency Room doctors at Charity to be free to treat the many gunshot and stabbing victims."

He's such a nice boy.

Anyway, this is basically Greg's MawMaw's recipe, but I, as usual, have futzed with it a bit to make it more like how I remember my MawMaw's stuffed mirlitons (except my MawMaw is called "Granny").

In a large pot, boil the mirlitons in water to cover for 1/2 hour, or until soft. Drain the water and set them aside to cool. While they're cooling, heat your oven to 350°F and grease a 8 inch square baking dish with butter.

When the mirlitons have cooled, scoop out the seeds carefully and discard them. Then scoop out the "meat", leaving about 1/4" all around. Chop the "meat" and put it in a bowl, setting the mirliton shells aside.

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the shrimp, ham, garlic and seasonings. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the mirliton "meat", milk, onion, green onion, and 1/2 cup of the bread crumbs. Cook for 5 more minutes, stirring well. Remove the skillet from the heat and spoon the mixture into the mirliton shells. Top each of the filled shells with about 1 tablespoon of the bread crumbs.

Put the mirlitons in the baking dish and carefully pour the stock into the dish around them.

Bake, uncovered for 1/2 an hour. Eat and enjoy.

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Chuck Taggart (e-mail chuck)