Ground Beef and Mirliton Skillet

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 lb lean ground beef
2 cups diced mirliton (chayote squash), about 2 medium sized mirlitons
1/3 cup chopped onion, about 1/2 an onion
1 small chopped red bell pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 C water or beef stock
1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 t nutmeg
1 Tbsp. creole seasoning
Salt and Pepper to taste

Preparation:

Halve and de-seed the mirlitons and cut into 1-inch cubes. With mirliton, it is often easier to boil them (like potatoes) before cooking with with them. Boil the diced mirliton in lightly salted water for 15 minutes or until fork tender. Drain mirliton and set aside. In a large skillet, sautee onion in heated olive oil until translucent. Add garlic and bell pepper. Add ground beef and brown. Add water and seasonings. Add mirliton and stir well. Allow to cook for another 5 minutes. I like to mash the pieces of mirliton into the beef, although this tends to happen on its own as the boiled squash is fairly soft.

I also think the addition of 1 can of tomatoes (Ro-tel) might be nice. If you try this, skip the water and use the canned tomatoes as the liquid.

Makes 3 servings.

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Jambalaya

Another flexible dish, like gumbos, with infinite combinations. There are two types of jambalaya that I am aware of; creole and cajun. Creole jambalayas use tomatoes and lean on the red side as a result, cajun jambalayas lean on the brown side and (as far as I know) don’t use tomato. The following recipe will be for a creole jambalaya.

I make jambalaya in a strange way… according to tradition. Rather than cooking the rice WITH the sauce, I cook them separately so that the rice comes out correctly each time. I found that when I did it the traditional way (cooking the rice in the sauce for an hour or so), the rice either came out underdone or mushy. If you choose to make it the traditional way, double the chicken/beef stock to 1 1/2 quarts.

Fin!

Jambalaya

1 lb. smoked sausage or andouille, sliced and browned
1 lb. chicken thighs, cut from bone, diced and browned
1/2 cup + 2 Tbps. olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 can diced tomatoes
2 toes garlic, diced
3 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
3/4 quart chicken or beef stock
1 small can of tomato paste

1 tablespoon creole seasoning (use more if you like)
1 tablespoon worchestershire sauce

6 cups rice, cooked

Brown the sausage and chicken in half the olive oil in a large saucepan or iron pot. When meat is nice and brown and you get the “gratin” on the bottom, saute the trinity. Add diced tomato (juice and all), garlic, bay leaves, thyme and heated stock. Add creole seasoning and bring to a simmer for 20 minutes at least, preferably longer like an hour or two. While sauce is simmering, in a separate small pot take 2 Tbps. olive oil and heat over medium heat. Empty can of tomato paste into hot oil and stir, stir, stir. This is called pincé-ing. Stir until paste is the color of mahogany (deep reddish-brown). Add paste to sauce. This will serve two purposes: one, it will thicken the sauce slightly and two, it will add that extra bite. When sauce is done, add cooked rice and mix thoroughly. Serves 6.

Variation: you may use pasta instead of rice. Add 1 lb. cooked pasta. Bake in a preheated 350 degree; oven for about 30 minutes in a casserole dish.

Creole Tuna Casserole

What could be better? Elements of creole cooking combined with comfort food… for me that’s redundant, but that’s not the point…

Creole Tuna Casserole

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tins (12 oz. total) of tuna packed in water, drained
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 medium bell pepper, diced
2 cloves of garlic
1 can of Rotel or diced tomatoes
16 oz. shell-type or rotini pasta (any type that will hold sauce well)
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
2 1/2 cups of milk
8 oz. SHARP cheddar cheese
a couple of dashes of Worchestershire sauce
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon creole seasoning
hot sauce to taste
1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs or Panko bread crumbs (depends on your taste)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees;. Start your pasta water boiling. Sautée onion and bell pepper in a tablespoon or so of olive oil until onions are translucent (about 5 minutes). Add garlic and tomatoes and sautee mixture for another 2 minutes. Season vegetable mixture with creole seasoning, salt, pepper, Worcestershire, and hot sauce then remove from heat. Check pasta for just below al dente stage as the pasta will cook more in the oven, drain pasta when it’s done. The next step is to make a béchamel sauce. Start the roux by melting the butter and adding the flour to the melted butter. You only want this to be a blond roux, so you don’t need to cook it long, just long enough to get rid of the raw flour taste. Add cold milk to roux and whisk until smooth. Add 3/4 of your shredded cheddar cheese to béchamel and whisk until creamy smooth. Combine tuna, pasta and vegetable mixture in a bowl and mix together until all the ingredients are fairly integrated. Add béchamel to mixture and fold until blended. Transfer mixture into a casserole dish, top with leftover cheese and bread crumbs. To make bread crumbs turn out crunchy and golden brown, add a tablespoon more of butter, chopped, to the top. Bake at 350 degrees; for 30 minutes.

EDIT: you can try it with Fontina or Gruyere mixed in with the cheddar. Or better yet, try Pepper Jack.