“In Haiti, chayote (christophine) or mirliton as we call it is mostly eaten in meat stews or legumes and au gratin. Chayote au Gratin, or Mirliton au Gratin, is a scrumptious and versatile dish! The taste is somewhat like a meat and cheese quiche but without the crust. It’s usually made with ham, Gruyére or Parmesan cheese, but my personal favourite is asiago cheese for its tartness.” – Tamara Douge, Caribbean Green Living
When making this dish, I have found that it is best to use fresh spices or dried spices. Seasoning spices mixed with salt does not particularly go well with all the other ingredients added.
- 4 chayotes peeled, cored, halved and cut into small cubes
- Salt to taste
- Oil for frying
- 1 cup cooked ham or low sodium turkey spam, cubed
- 1 medium white onion chopped (about ½ cup)
- 1 Tbsp. chopped parsley
- 1 tsp. thyme leaves only, chopped
- Black pepper to taste
- 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
- 2 Tbsp. all purpose flour
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 cup grated cheese: Asiago Gruyére, or Parmesan
- Dried breadcrumbs for topping
- Additional butter and grated cheese for topping
Put cubed chayote in a pot with enough water to cover. Add salt to taste and bring to a boil. Cover ajar and let cook for 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from heat and drain well; discard water.
In a frying pan, with oil, fry ham or spam cubes until they start turning light brown, then add onion. Stir to mix; add parsley, thyme and pepper to taste. Let mixture cook until onions are halfway cooked. Remove from heat and set aside.
Make the béchamel sauce: heat butter in a saucepan and add flour. Stir to blend (best to use a wooden spoon). Once butter and flour are well mixed, gradually add milk while stirring. When milk is fully incorporated, add grated cheese. Stir and let mixture cook for about 2 to 3 minutes on low heat. Mixture should be thick. Remove from heat and set aside. In a large bowl, mix chayote with meat mixture; fold in béchamel sauce.
Add mixture to a prepared buttered dish. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and more grated cheese. Add a few dots of butter and bake at 375 degree F for 20 to 25 minutes until top is starting to brown. Remove and serve immediately with bread as an appetizer or a side dish.
The chayotes will release more water as they cook, so the béchamel sauce must be thick. Drain them thoroughly before mixing all ingredients.