Mirlton and River Shrimp Casserole
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Credit: ACF Chef John Folse, CEC, AAC, HOF, HBOT
National Culinary Review, July/August 2023
From the Chef
“A somewhat lesser-known NOLA dish that ACF Chef John Folse, CEC, AAC, HOF, HBOT, absolutely loves is mirliton and river shrimp casserole. “I love this dish because it’s delicious and brings such vivid childhood memories to mind — so much so that I can almost taste it,” he says. “What makes this dish unique are the two primary ingredients: mirliton and river shrimp. You may not have eaten the succulently sweet river shrimp that arrive each June with the rising waters of the Mississippi River, but they are delicious. River shrimp are much sweeter than their saltwater cousins.” Mirliton, which originated in Mexico, is known by many Americans as chayote squash or vegetable pear, and by the French as christophene. The vegetable was brought to Bayou Country by the Canary Islanders, called Los Isleños, who relocated to Louisiana when Spain took ownership of New Orleans from France. “Here, we take a traditional vegetable of Bayou Country and give it a different twist by mixing it with shellfish,” says Chef Folse. “The result is a delicious, simple dish that is fit to feed any crowd.” It is also “very easy to prepare.””
4 medium mirlitons
1 pound river shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tablespoons liquid crab boil
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup diced onions
1/4 cup diced celery
1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup sliced green onions
1/2 cup chopped parsley
Salt and black pepper, to taste
Granulated garlic, to taste
1/2 cup bread crumbs
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Place mirlitons in a large pot and cover with salted water and crab boil. Bring to a boil and cook approximately 45 minutes or until tender. Drain mirlitons and discard water. Peel and cube the pulp; set aside.
In a large, heavy-bottomed skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add onions, celery, bell pepper, minced garlic, green onions and parsley and sauté 3–5 minutes or until vegetables are just tender. Add river shrimp and cook 5–7 minutes or until pink and curled. Add mirliton pulp and season to taste with salt, pepper and granulated garlic, mixing well.
Pour into a greased 9-inch x 13-inch casserole dish and sprinkle with bread crumbs. Bake 20–25 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from oven and let rest 10 minutes before serving.
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