So when I spent my first Thanksgiving with my husband’s family in New Orleans, already knowing they were exceptional cooks, I was excited to experience all kinds of new dishes. Growing up in Maine, we always had stuffing, but as the holiday neared, I didn’t hear a word about stuffing on the menu, but my husband assured me there would be lots of dressings. I thought, Great! I love salad–who wouldn’t want a variety of dressings, right?
It turns out that dressings are the region’s name for stuffing. And their dressings can come in a variety of flavors. (You might want to go get a drool cup. No, really. I’ll wait.) There is garlic-green bean dressing, oyster dressing, cornbread dressing, and then there’s my very, very favorite: shrimp and mirliton dressing.
Now you all know what a shrimp is. But allow me to introduce you to a proud member of the squash family you may not be as familiar with.
I present to you the magnificent, the mighty, the Mirliton.
Is that great, or what?
I mean, just look at it! Have you ever known a food-item with this much character? (If you have, feel free to attach a pic. I’d like to see it.) fact, the mirliton is so cool, so spunky, it even has its own Festival every year!
Now when it comes to taste, mirliton aren’t overpowering—they have a mild, starchy flavor–but boy are they great to look at before they are boiled and cubed for the dish.
And speaking of the dish…this is what it looks like finished:
Making it isn’t hard–it’s simply a matter of sauteeing shrimp and frozen artichoke hearts with celery, onion, salt and pepper–then blending that mixture with shrimp stock (or fish stock if you don’t want to make your own), cubed and boiled mirliton and bread crumbs in a casserole dish, then bake.
This year will find us breaking tradition and having Thanksgiving in a new place with new foods, and most likely, Mirliton-less. But I have a feeling if I plead, my husband could be coerced into making some when we return. How else can we have mirliton dressing sandwiches, mirliton dressing hash, mirliton dressing pot pie, mirliton dressing…?
* * * *
So tell me, dear friends–what favorite dishes will be gracing your Thanksgiving tables?
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