Although it is native to Louisiana, California, and Florida, the mirliton is also seen in other states under the name chayote. Its flavor is so mild that it tends to pick up the flavor of whatever it is cooked with and has the appearance of a giant pear.
8 ounces of medium-sized diced tasso (ham may be substituted; season with 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika and 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper)
Add mirliton and cover with cold water in a big pot. Add salt, then bring to a boil. Cook until fork tender, about an hour. (Use a paring knife to pierce; you should encounter some resistance.)
Drain. Allow to cool in a public area. (Note: Because of its high water content, mirliton should be prepared as a root vegetable. Avoid overcooking or shocking with cold water to cool. As a result, the vegetable will lose flavor and the casserole will become watery.)
Use a paring knife to remove the mirliton’s skin. From stem to bottom, cut in half, remove seeds, and lightly mash. Remove extra liquid from the mash.
Tasso should be sauteed for about four minutes, or until brown, in a sizable pot with one tablespoon of butter over medium heat.
Salt and pepper the onions, add them, and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, or until they are soft.
Add the mirliton and continue stirring while cooking for 3 minutes. Once the heat is off, season.
Pour 1 tablespoon of butter into a large casserole dish with a surface area of 3 inches. Add the mixture and gently press down with your hand.
Custard can be made by whisking together milk, eggs, and seasoning. Combine with other ingredients.
Melt the remaining butter for the topping. Including spices, breadcrumbs, and green onions, cover the casserole with the combination.
Bake casserole for an hour with a foil cover. Detach the foil. Until golden brown, bake for 30 to 40 minutes.
Be sure casserole is not watery. If so, poke a hole in the topping, lower the oven’s temperature, and keep cooking until the water has been absorbed.
How are mirlitons consumed?
Former private chef Anjali is now a full-time student of nutrition with aspirations of becoming a registered dietitian. She resides in New Orleans with her husband and toddler. Visit Eat Your Greens to read more of her writing.
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Has your community ever held a festival in honor of its favorite squash? My own does. The autumnal Bywater Mirliton Festival in New Orleans has music, food, and, of course, mirlitons, the green, bumpy, pears-shaped squash that grows on vines all around the city.
Nowhere else is the squash prepared and consumed quite the same way as it is in New Orleans, despite the fact that you may know the mirliton by a different name (hint: the plant is native to Mexico). Here’s how this odd-looking veggie came to be known as the city’s unofficial squash.
Records indicate that mirliton, sometimes known as chayote, was grown in New Orleans as early as 1867. According to mirliton aficionado Lance Hill, the city’s close ties to the Caribbean may have contributed to its early appeal, which started the long tradition of backyard mirliton vines in New Orleans that is still going strong today. Many of these garden vines were destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, but community organizations are striving to revive the traditional Louisiana mirliton, which is listed on Slow Food USA’s Ark of Taste.
The mirliton, also called the “vegetable pear,” is a plant that belongs to the gourd family. They are frequently served pickled, filled with shrimp or fried in New Orleans, and occasionally they are eaten raw in salads. Autumn is when you’ll find them in the farmers market, or sold at roadside vegetable kiosks.
What flavor does the mirliton have then? Sara Roahen, a food writer, describes it in her book Gumbo Tales: Finding My Place at the New Orleans Table in the following manner:
A uncooked mirliton has the texture of a potato and tastes somewhat like zucchini and a very green cucumber. Its translucent green flesh indicates what a honeydew melon might appear, feel, and taste like if it were a vegetable when boiled and fried. When sauteed, it tastes like starchy apples.
There is one more thing you must learn if you want to find this unusual vegetable when visiting New Orleans in the fall: how to pronounce “mirliton”! The most typical pronunciations appear to be mel-lee-tawn and mel-uh-tawn, although if you panic and use the phonetic mer-leh-tun, you’ll probably be gently sent in the proper direction nevertheless.
Is mirliton skin edible?
A thin-skinned squash originated from Mexico is called chayote. The bumpy green fruit, a member of the gourd family, is widely available in the Southwest but is still considered a novelty item in most of the rest of the country.
Although technically a fruit (Sechium edule), chayote squash is consumed as a vegetable. The seeds, skin, and flowers are all edible components of the gourd. The pale green chayote’s crisp, uncooked flesh softens when cooked. Chayote is a delicious, nutritious food that is adored for its gentle, cold, and somewhat sweet flavor that is reminiscent of cucumber. A
What flavor does mirliton have?
It’s a Mirliton, then. akin to a winter squash or an unripe pear. They have an even, pale olive green color when fully ripe, and depending on how you prepare them, they can taste between between cucumber and asparagus. Their flavor has also been cleverly described as tasting “like a honeydew melon, if it were a vegetable,”
Do you chill your mirlitons?
Prepare in advance: The mirlitons can be cooked, cooled, and chilled the day before. Before being baked, the mirliton halves can be stuffed and stored in the refrigerator for a day; after baking, the cooked, stuffed mirliton halves can be stored in the refrigerator for two days.
What is the purpose of mirliton?
Now mirliton (mel-uh-tawn or mer-leh-tawn, depending on where in New Orleans you’re from) is still the name used by most residents. They have long been a bland dish that is primarily used to stretch proteins so that more people may be fed.
Does a mirliton require peeling?
- It’s acceptable to combine some skin with the pulp while scooping out or peeling mirliton or chayote because it’s edible. Although I do my best to remove as much skin as possible, the skin is already rather soft after 30 minutes of boiling, so don’t worry too much about that.
- Although butter or olive oil can be used in place of bacon grease if you prefer to avoid it, bacon fat adds a lovely depth of flavor to the dish. If you adore bacon and just can’t get enough of it, cook three pieces and remove them after all the fat has rendered. Simply chop them up and add them back when you add the shrimp rather than throwing them away or eating them. It’s a pleasure!
- After all the veggies have simmered, there should be enough of liquid remaining; but, if you add the bread and it appears to be extremely dry, add a small amount of chicken stock (or tomato juice from a can) as necessary. It’s doubtful that you’ll need to add more liquid given the high water content of the tomatoes, shrimp, and other vegetables.
- Don’t be afraid to use tinned tomatoes in place of fresh ones. I often buy whole, peeled tomatoes and smash them by hand when using canned tomatoes. Prior to adding the tomatoes, drain the liquid. If necessary, the liquid could be used in place of the chicken stock.
The mild flavor of the mirliton complements the rich, juicy crab flesh and the special spice mixture of nutmeg, allspice, and cardamon in this creamy, rich soup. Served with crisp french bread and a green salad, it is ideal as either an appetizer or the main meal.
The mirliton fruit, delicious Creole tomatoes, fresh shrimp, and creole spice are sauteed together with the trinity (onions, celery, and bell peppers), the mirliton fruit, and the shrimp filling. Hearty and tasty comfort meal from South Louisiana! Try this dish, and you’ll soon discover why Mirlitons, a strange-looking squash also known as Chayote or Vegetable Pear, are a favorite in Louisiana.
How can you tell if a mirliton is ready?
Chayotes should be between light and dark green in color, firm to the touch, and free of any brown soft patches if you want to select a ripe one (varying colors are fine as long as the fruit is firm)
Mirliton: a chayote or not?
+U.S. recommendations for adults are used to closely estimate the percentages. USDA FoodData Central as a source
Sechium edule, also referred to as chayote, mirliton, and choko, is a member of the Cucurbitaceae family of edible plants. This fruit was first cultivated in the Mesoamericas between southern Mexico and Honduras, with the maximum genetic variation present in both Mexico and Guatemala. It is one of many dishes that the Columbian Exchange brought to the Old World. The plant at that time expanded to other parts of the Americas, leading to its eventual incorporation into the cuisine of many Latin American countries.
Most often, the chayote fruit is cooked. Chayote is typically prepared similarly to summer squash; it is typically briefly cooked to preserve the crunchy consistency. Although raw chayote can be used in salads or salsas, it is typically marinated in lemon or lime juice and is frequently viewed as particularly unpleasant and fibrous in texture. Chayote is a great source of vitamin C whether it is consumed raw or cooked.
Though the majority of people only know the fruit to be delicious, the root, stem, seeds, and leaves are also edible. The plant’s stems and leaves, particularly in Asia, are frequently used in salads and stir-fries while the plant’s tubers are eaten like potatoes and other root vegetables.
What makes chayote known as mirliton?
Chayotes, who are uniquely Spanish, arrived in New Orleans via a detour. Being a port city and a former French colony, New Orleans absorbed Spanish cultural influences. However, French agriculture and cuisine predominated (hence the French name change to “mirliton” later on).
Chayotes arrived in New Orleans in the middle of the eighteen hundreds, just as France, having lost the Seven Years War, had given Spain control of Louisiana in 1763. Trade between New Orleans and the Caribbean cities developed significantly after Spain dispatched bureaucrats from Cuba and the other Caribbean colonies to the city.
Some of the tastiest foods produced by Creole-French chefs in New Orleans are what would have been referred to as “peasant fare” in past times.
Despite Spain’s sovereignty over the city, Canary Islanders started to immigrate to New Orleans. They became referred to as “Los Islenos,” and chayotes were a common food source for them. Until the 1790s, when a large number of white immigrants from Haiti arrived in the wake of the slave uprising on that island, New Orleanians probably referred to the gourd, which tastes somewhat like a cucumber when uncooked, as “chayote.” The word “mirlitons” would have been used by those French speakers. From that point on, the Creole-French name was used.
Does chayote need to be peeled?
Chayotes can be cooked or raw and have a light cucumber-like flavor. They can also be eaten fresh or cooked like summer squash.
Although chayote skin is edible, it is less sensitive than the meat, thus it is usually a good idea to peel it. The fruit’s seed in the middle can be eaten as well. By quartering the chayote and cutting it out, or by halving the fruit and spooning it out, you can either leave it in or remove it. It is firm, not crisp like the surrounding flesh, and has a little nutty flavor.
Similar to how you would prepare summer squash or cucumbers, prepare chayote. Chayotes can be pickled or finely sliced, julienned, or diced, then added to salads, slaws, or salsas. Chayotes stay crisp and juicy when cooked quickly in sautes (see recipe below), but you can also deep-fry, stew, mash, roast, stuff, and bake them like potatoes.