What a strange and wonderful fruit! It’s called chayote and it’s a native of Costa Rica. In fact, the chayote is one of Costa Rica’s most prominent exports, and one of the protected areas in Alajuela National Park is called El Chayote. Chayote looks like a smooth-skinned pear and cooks like a potato or squash. Inside is one soft seed. The cooked taste: sweet, crunchy and the perfect base for a variety of sauces.
Here is my take on a superbly rich side dish that will be right at home on your dinner table with grilled meats or fish.
2 pounds chayote
8 slices pancetta, cut to bite-sized pieces
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 Tablespoon butter, cubed
salt and pepper
1. Boil the chayotes whole, skin and all, for 45 minutes. Remove from water and allow to cool.
2. Peel chayotes, halve and remove seeds and stem. Slice 1/4 inch thick.
3. In buttered baking dish, layer chayotes, pancetta and cheeses. Top with heavy cream, butter cubes and salt and pepper.
4. Bake at 350 degrees until golden brown and bubbly, about 30 minutes.