Wednesday, October 30, 2013

50 Chefs and Paul Prudhomme and Mirliton Pirogue Stuffed With Shrimp

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 So here we go again.  50 Chefs for 50 Years continues.  Today, Paul Prudhomme and his book Louisiana Kitchen.  He is the godfather of Cajun cuisine, and I remember the day I got this book.  I had never been to New Orleans, but blackened fish was all the rage when we moved to Atlanta in 1991, and I really wanted to explore this cuisine.  This book was on a list of the 50 greatest cookbooks of all times, and  I guess as Louisiana cooking goes, it really is the authority.  However, I have never cooked a thing out of it.  It is rather complicated, lots of steps, and it wasn't food I had a lot of experience with.  So now that I am older and wiser, here we go.

We have a lot of families on my daughter's volleyball team from Louisiana, and I was talking to them about Mirlitons.  I wish I could give you a pronunciation, because a Louisiana native doesn't pronounce it the way it is spelled.  At all.  It's like mel-i-tone.  Not sure where that R went to.  Anyway, some friends brought me a basket of them, and here I am. They are also called chayote, but I have yet to see them in my local grocer under any name.   I followed Chef Prudhomme's recipe to prep these, by boiling them until tender.  Then I cooled, peeled and cored them, reserving the pulp for the filling.

Here's what I learned.  They look like a squash, but are not starchy at all.  They are actually in the cucumber family. Also called a vegetable pear.  The flesh is sweet and bright, and they are not easy to scoop out into perfect little Pirogues.  What's a Pirogue, you ask?  I know this only because I watch Swamp People.  A Pirogue is the boat they use in the swamp, very shallow hull, and here is a great photo of one.  My Pirogue (pronounce pee-row), will be filled with shrimp and andouille.  I left out the Tasso and Oyster Hollandaise for a couple of reasons.  First, it would make a simple dish that already has a few steps in it, much more complicated,  and second, it calls for a pound of butter, 4 egg yolks and 1/4 cup margarine.  I have seen Chef Prudhomme on Top Chef this season, and I am going to guess this gentleman isn't eating a lot of hollandaise these days.  He was a large man when this book was published and he is easily half his weight now.  So I too opted out of all that fat.  I thought without the hollandaise, I would get a better flavor of the mirlitons, the andouille and the shrimp!  I was right.

Before we get into the details of the recipe, I have to tell you, I LOVE these.  The mirliton after it was boiled and peeled was delicious.  Really.  The flavor is hard to put my finger on, but I think it could go sweet or savory.  It enhances other flavors, like the spicy andouille, and they fried, yes fried to a gorgeous crispy treat.  The meat was delicious with it.  My next adventure will be boiling them and maybe making a cajun fry baked in the oven this time.  I made extra seasoning, so there'll be plenty of flavor!  A new favorite here for sure!

Mirliton Pirogue Stuffed with Shrimp

2 large Mirlitons
1/2 cup milk
1 egg beaten
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup breadcrumbs

I doubled this because I know it will be good on sweet potato fries, brown rice, chicken... 

Seasoning Mix

1 T salt
1 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon dry mustard
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried basil

vegetable oil for frying

One andouille would have been plenty, but there were only 2 in the case.  I felt guilty buying just one.

3 Tablespoons butter
1/2 cup andouille sausage (I used 2 links)
1/2 pound peeled shrimp

Boil the mirlitons in a large pot of water until they are fork tender.  Rinse and cool.  Slice down the middle and peel and deseed.  Scoop out extra pulp so you have a 1/2 inch thick shell.  If you make the mirlitons ahead, simply cover and chill them until ready to use.

Fry the sausage until the meat is cooked through.  Add the and extra mirliton pulp and the shrimp and cook until the shrimp are cooked through.  Turn off heat and set aside.

The Dipping Stations
Add 2 teaspoons of the seasoning mix to both the flour and the panko, and mix well.  Make stations for your dipping process.

One pirogue is plenty!
Add enough vegetable oil to a deep skillet so it is about 1/4" deep.  Dip the mirliton pirogues into the seasoned flour first, then into the egg, then into the seasoned Panko.  Fry in hot oil until crispy, flip and fry on the other side.  Drain on paper towels or brown bags.  Fill with the shrimp andouille mixture and enjoy!!! An Abita Beer or root beer from New Orleans would be a great addition!!

Check out the prior chefs in my 50 Years and 50 Great Cooks/Chefs.  

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