This squash compote is one of the most delicious things in our winter. It's different from squash paste (another sweet very common in this time of year here, which is similar to apple sauce), which seems more like a spread. This one is lot more dessert-y and has a texture that I don't think I'd find in any other food.
It's a classic in São João festivities, although it seems to be outmoded lately.
I've taken base in hints from my mother and in this recipe.
1kg squash (I don't know how to specify the right kind in English, sorry)
3 tablespoons quicklime* (that one you find in hardware stores)
2 cups granulated sugar
3 cups water
2 sticks cinnamon
(Cup measure: 240ml)
First, I peeled and chopped the squash in 3cm cubes.
If you take a look at the picture below, you will realize why the kind of squash I used is named alligator squash (abóbora jacaré): that is a slice of it's neck!
Since squashes are generally a bit hard, I recommend using a very sharp knife, that will assure you get the job done and don't cut yourself.
The majority of accidents with knifes happen when they are blunt.
Anyway. Next thing I did was to dissolve whitewash in 2l water and pour it over the chopped squash, in a large bowl. Make sure all of the squash is covered in the mixture.
I covered the bowl with a tea towel and let it rest overnight.
In this process, what happens is that whitewash chemically "cooks" the outside of the squash cubes, hardening their surface.
The next day, I discarded the whitewash water and throughly washed the squash cubes in running water. This can be done with the help of a large colander.
In a large pan, I took the water, sugar, cloves and cinnamon to simmer over low heat until I got a thin syrup. I added the squash cubes to it and kept simmering in low heat until they turned soft inside, while keeping the outside al dente. You have to try them every once in a while to know when they're done. It may have took 30 minutes or something like that.
I let the compote cool down a little bit, until lukewarm, then served it, because we could not resist the dessert's smell.
Usually it's served at room temperature or chilled, though.
It keeps for very long stored in airtight tupperware or preserving jars, in the refrigerator.
Yields, let's say, about 15 servings.
*About the quicklime: I am absolutely sure about how this product is named in Brazil, so that people will use the right one and be perfectly safe. I've made a research about how it would be called in English and found that the word is quicklime. The chemical name for it is Calcium Oxide. Make sure to ask about it being pure calcium oxide when buying it.