Thursday, March 12, 2009

How do I make a good chestnut stuffing?

Chestnut Stuffing

8 Cups Rustic/Crusty Bread that is stale, dry or toasted. Cut into 1 ½ inch cubes
2 cups Onions large dice
1 cup Carrot large dice
1 cup Celery large dice
1 cup Chestnuts roughly chopped
4 tbsp Garlic chopped
1 cup White Wine
4 cups Chicken Stock (or 1 box)
2 tbsp Chestnut Honey
4 Tbsp Sage roughly chopped

Salt and Pepper to taste

1. Sauté the onions, carrots, and celery on medium heat until soft and slightly browned.
2. Add the garlic and chestnuts to the sauté, stirring vigorously for one minute or so.
3. Add the white wine and chicken stock and bring it to a low boil. Simmer for a few minutes and be sure to scrape the bottom of the for any delicious bits that might be stuck.
4. Turn off the flame and stir in the chestnut honey and sage. Let it steep for five minutes. Smell and taste this soupy mixture at this point, It should taste great and smell amazing.
5. In a large bowl, add this mixture to the bread and incorporate it well. Spread it out the 9.5" x 16" baking dish and make sure it settles (but don’t squish it down).
6. Bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes, it should be nicely browned and crispy on top.

So, we might be a little late for stuffing, but I also sometimes drink in the early afternoon. I say if it feels good, eat it . . . or whatever. That said, let’s make a little thanksgiving dinner . . . . in March.

Starting with the chestnut stuffing. I followed the recipe above almost to a T. Just keep in mind that it is a functional guideline more than a doctrine. I bought fresh bread for this. So to dry it out I laid it out on sheet pans in the oven at 300 degrees for 15-20 minutes and then (without opening the door) shut off the oven and left it in there to dry. I used jarred chestnuts for this, though canned (in syrup)would be fine as well, or even freshly roasted if you have the time and they’re in season. The key ingredient to this recipe, though, is the chestnut honey, and I added a little more than my own recipe calls for. Just use it carefully, because it is very strong stuff.

Next I made a sage roasted chicken. Stuff the butter and sage under the skin. To reach the legs, make two incisions on the back, for the breasts you can scoot in from the head end, just try to avoid separating the skin from the breastbone, as it acts as an anchor. Season it well with salt and pepper and roast it in the same 375 degree oven. This took about 40 minutes, but to test the doneness, insert a pairing knife at the hip joint, if the juices run out clear then you goose is cooked or chicken in this case.

For a veg, I simply roasted half of a kabocha squash in the spirit of this recipe.

To top it all off I made quick cognac and chestnut gravy, but that’s a whole other blog entry. . . .
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