Cajun Shrimp Mirliton Casserole

Cajun Shrimp Mirliton Casserole

6-8 servings

This rich, savory dish (pronounced shrimp mah-lih-tone) is pure Cajun comfort food. In Louisiana it's often served as a side dish; it also works as a first course.

7 medium mirliton (also called chayotes; 5 lb)

2 medium onions, chopped

2 green bell peppers, chopped

1 stick unsalted butter

3 large garlic cloves, minced

1 cup bread crumbs

2 lb large shrimp, shelled, deveined, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1/4 teaspoon cayenne, or to taste

Simmer mirlitons in water to cover by 2 inches in an 8-quart pot, partially covered, until very tender, about 1 hour. Drain mirlitons, then halve and peel, discarding pits. Coarsley chop in a food processor.

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Cook onions and bell peppers in 6 tablespoons of butter in a 6-7 quart wide heavy pot over moderatley low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened. Add garlic and cook, stirring, 1 minute, Add mirlitons and cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid is evaporated, about 5 minutes. (Do not let the vegetables brown.) Stir in breadcrumbs, shrimp, cayenne, and salt and pepper to taste and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Spoon into a shallow 3 quart baking dish and sprinkle with bread crumbs. Dot with remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and bake in the upper third of the oven until bread crumbs are just golden, 12-15 minutes.