This flavorful casserole featuring pork and beef combined with mirliton squash does double duty as either an entrée worthy of the center of the table or a buffet side dish. This perfectly balanced combination has just the right level of aromatics, herbs, and spices to bring your guests back for another spoonful.
Mirliton is an ingredient with cultural roots and an exclusively local identity. When I say the word “MEL-a-tawn” outside of Cajun country, I usually get a stupefied stare. When I pronounce it phonetically “MERL-e-tawn,” I still fail to register any understanding. I then have to go into the long explanation that a mirliton is a Chayote squash, sometimes called a vegetable pear. But here in Louisiana, we have a language all our own, so MEL-e-tawn it is.
This bright green, pear-shaped vegetable is a jewel of an ingredient in the Cajun kitchen. Stuffing is a popular method to cook them, and I have a delicious Shrimp-Stuffed Mirliton on page 149 of my cookbook Acadiana Table: Cajun and Creole Home Cooking From The Heart Of Louisiana.
But today, it’s a meaty dressing featuring mirliton in a cast-iron casserole—a delicious and easy Cajun recipe.
- 6 mirlitons, quartered
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- ¾ pound ground pork
- ¾ pound (80/20) ground chuck
- 1 stick butter
- 1 cup diced yellow onion
- ½ cup diced green bell pepper
- ½ cup diced red bell pepper
- 1 cup diced celery
- 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon white pepper
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon Acadiana Table Cajun Seasoning Blend, see recipe here
- 1 teaspoon hot sauce
- 2 cups panko breadcrumbs
- ½ cup chicken stock, if needed
- 2 tablespoons melted butter, for topping
- In a large pot with a tight-fitting lid over medium-high heat, add the mirlitons and cover with water. Cover and boil until tender, about 40 minutes. Drain the water and let cool to room temperature. Remove and discard any seeds and chop the softened mirlitons into bite-size chunks. Drain off any excess water; set aside for later use.
- Preheat oven to 375ºF.
- In a large (12-inch) cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat, add the oil along with the pork and ground beef. Break up the meat in the pan and sauté just until the meat begins to brown, about 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and remove the meat from the pan with a slotted spoon draining off excess grease. Set aside for later use.
- In the same skillet over medium-high heat, add the butter. Add the onion, bell peppers, and celery. Sauté until the onions turn translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the parsley and garlic along with the salt, peppers, onion powder, Cajun seasoning, and hot sauce. Cook for 3 minutes longer and add the cooked mirliton.
- Combine the mixture and stir in the breadcrumbs. The breadcrumbs should be moist; add some of the chicken stock if needed. Distribute the vegetables and meat evenly around the skillet and spoon the melted butter over the top. Place in the hot oven and let bake until the casserole is heated through and the top is browned, about 30 minutes.
YOUR SEAT AT THE TABLE: If you like this Cajun cooking story and Cajun recipe then accept my personal invitation to subscribe by entering your email at the bottom or top right of this page. It’s quick and painless. You will receive an email alert and be the first to see when new Cajun cooking stories and Cajun recipes are added. Thanks, George.