Yikes! Can you believe Christmas is only a few weeks away? It’s time to start planning your holiday menu, send out Christmas cards and begin your holiday shopping list. Wow, I’m already tired. I find the holidays are often a month chock full of to-do lists, parties, shopping and wrapping gifts. With all the rushing and hustling I find myself craving a table full of comforting side dishes that soothe my tired soul.
I keep our holiday table pretty classic with tamales, mole, ham, and pozole, but I like to mix-it-up with new side dishes each year. Last year I made a cheesy rice casserole to accompany my charros beans. This year I am adding this cheesy and creamy chayote potato gratin to the mix that pairs wonderfully with my papi’s famous tamarind glazed ham he makes every year.
My gratin is made with crispy chayotes and hearty potatoes all swimming in a creamy béchamel sauce swirled with Cacique Crema Mexicana. I’m addicted to Cacique’s line of cremas from their Crema Mexicana to Crema Agria to the Crema Salvadoreña I keep my fridge stocked with these delicious cremas to use in my weekly meal prep.
Cacique cremas have a neutral fresh-tasting flavor, similar in consistency to crème Fraiche. I like to use them to top my gameday nachos, weeknight enchiladas and have recently started adding them to my sauces.
The star of this gratin is chayotes. Chayotes originate in Mexico. They are a light green, pear-shaped member of the cucurbitaceous family. Mild in taste, similar to a cross between a pear and squash they are crunchy in texture and can be eaten raw, steamed, sautéed and baked. I like to add them to my summer salads, winter soups and they pair perfectly with potatoes. Low in calories and sodium, chayotes can be found near the squash in your produce aisle. When selecting a chayote, it should be firm to the touch and free of bruises.
Assemble this gratin the day before and bake Christmas day. I added another layer of flavor by combining Monterrey cheese with fresh cilantro, add to baked gratin then broil for a crispy-cheesy topping. Creamy, hearty and packed with deliciousness this chayote potato gratin is sure to be a hit at your Holiday table.