Chayotes, tropical squash known as christophines in Martinique, are traditionally baked with cheese there, revealing a French influence. Chayotes come in several sizes and although Corinne Trang ate rather large ones in Martinique, she prefers the small and medium-size ones.
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4 medium chayotes (about 1/2 pound each)
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 strips of bacon, finely chopped
1 small onion, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups shredded Gruyère (about 6 ounces)
3 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
Salt and freshly ground pepper
How to Make It
Lay the chayotes on a work surface; cut them in half horizontally and pit them. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the chayotes and cook over high heat until just tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and let cool slightly. Using a melon baller or small spoon, scoop out the center of the chayotes, leaving a 1/4-inch shell. Transfer the shells to a large baking dish. Finely chop the flesh.
In a small pitcher, whisk the milk with the flour until smooth. Melt the butter in a large skillet. Add the bacon and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until crisp, about 3 minutes. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until softened, about 4 minutes. Whisk the milk again and add it to the skillet. Cook over moderate heat, stirring, until the sauce thickens, about 1 minute. Add the chopped chayote and cook over moderate heat, stirring often, until the excess liquid evaporates, 7 to 8 minutes. Add half of the cheese and the parsley and season with salt and pepper. Season the chayote shells with salt and pepper. Mound the filling in the shells and sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Transfer the stuffed chayotes to a baking sheet.
Preheat the oven to 450°. Bake the stuffed chayotes for about 25 minutes, or until golden and bubbling. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.
The stuffed chayotes can be refrigerated for 2 days.
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