“People had said that mirlitons were the lazy man’s vegetable. They take care of themselves. You plant them, they grow, and you stand underneath until one falls on your head. You don’t have to weed or spray it, and you don’t even have to pick it.” – Lance Hill
What is a Mirliton?
Mirliton, chou chou, xuxu, christophene, and most commonly known as a chayote; no matter what you call it, the crop remains the same. This pear shaped vegetable is one of the most versatile vegetables used in recipes. The mild-tasting, pale green squash is grown in tropical areas all over the world, is extremely easy to manage and grow all while being a perfect addition baked into pies, breads or puddings.
If you are in the south, a New Orleans favorite is to serve them stuffed – check out our recipe adapted from “The Plantation Cookbook” for our Garden Guide below! Ever since 2005 when Hurricane Katrina hit and flooded 80 percent of the city, growers have dedicated much of their time to cultivating the crop. For the full story you can purchase The Old Farmer’s Almanac All-Seasons Garden Guide here!
Recipe: Stuffed Mirlitons
5 medium merlitons
½ cup butter (1 stick), ham fat, bacon grease, or oil, divided
⅓ cup minced onions
⅔ cup chopped scallions
3 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
½ cup chopped ham
½ cup peeled, deveined, and chopped raw shrimp
¾ cup bread crumbs, plus more for sprinkling
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pinch hot red pepper flakes or 2 dashes hot sauce
1 egg, beaten
➢ Put the mirlitons into a large saucepan, cover with water, and boil for 30 to 45 minutes, or until tender. Drain, set aside to cool, and then cut each in half lengthwise. Discard the seed and large center strings. Scoop out the large center pulp into a bowl, leaving a ¼ inch shell. Turn the shells upside down to drain.
➢ Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a large skillet, melt (if necessary) ¼ cup of butter, then add the onions, scallions, garlic, and parsley and sauté for 5 minutes, or until the onions are translucent. Add the ham and shrimp and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add the mirliton pulp, bread crumbs, salt, black pepper, and hot red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, for 10 minutes. Add the remaining butter, in whole or in part, if the mixture looks dry. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir thoroughly. Add the egg, return the skillet to the heat, and cook for 1 minute.
➢ Arrange the shells in a baking pan and fill each with the mixture. Sprinkle with bread crumbs. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the bread crumbs have just browned. Serve immediately. Stuffed mirlitons may be prepared ahead of time and reheated.
Makes 10 servings.