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Chestnut Stuffing with Minimal Injuries

We had a request from one of our readers about Chestnut Stuffing. Look at that – people asking us for advice! I nearly fell off my chair. Anyway, I felt I couldn't turn down such an honest request. In additional to inquiring about our Chestnut Stuffing recipe, the reader wanted to know the best way to roast chestnuts, having had some bad experiences in that arena.

Well, let me tell you this: I can relate to that last part. One word that describes my chestnut roasting experiences: ouch. However, fear not, dear reader! I have done some research. Asked around and what not, and then performed my own experiments here in the Laboratorio Semi Moderno.

By the way, the Laboratorio is looking somewhat worse for wear, so if any of you would like to come over and clean it for me....just sayin'...

OK, back to chestnuts! Before you put them in anything, they need to be roasted.

Here is how you do that:

Take the chestnuts (however many you want to use) and cut a long "x" or  slit in their shells with a very sharp knife. The longer the cut, the better because even after they are roasted and the shells peel back around the incision, they are dang hard to remove. I would show you the cuts on my right thumb, but no one wants to see that. Take a look at the above photo on the far left. Notice how long the incision in the shell is. Aim for something like this.

Fire up your oven to 400 degrees and place the chestnuts (cut side up) in a large skillet or roasting pan. Something with sides because you're going to put some water in the bottom, just a little so that the chestnuts don't burn.

Put this entire arrangement in the oven (the nuts, water and pan) and let it roast for about 25 minutes. You will notice the shells start to peel away from the nut inside.

Take them out of the oven and (PLEASE) let them cool before you start to peel off the skins. If they come out of their shells in pieces, that's OK because you're just going to chop them up to put in the stuffing anyway.

And now for that stuffing. I use Martha Stewart's recipe. But I have to admit that I really like to add BACON to it. So, that's my addition to this recipe. Here it is:

What You Need:

This recipe serves 10-12

2 loaves good-quality white bread, cut into 3/4-inch cubes (about 20 cups)
Roasted chestnuts, chopped
3/4 cup unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks)
4 small onions, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice (about 3 cups)
1 bunch celery, cut into 1/4-inch dice (about 4 cups)
8 pieces cooked bacon
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage
5 cups homemade or low-sodium store-bought chicken stock
1 tablespoon coarse salt
3 cups coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Freshly ground pepper

What To Do:

Spread bread cubes in single layers on baking sheets. Let dry at room temperature, uncovered, overnight. You could also use pre-dried bread cubes. Look for those in the Thanksgiving section of your supermarket.

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and celery; cook, stirring, until onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. Add sage; cook 3 minutes. Stir in 1/2 cup stock; cook until reduced by half, about 5 minutes.

Transfer onion mixture to a large bowl. Add remaining 4 1/2 cups stock, the chestnuts, bread, salt, parsley and cooked bacon; season with pepper. Toss to combine. If not stuffing turkey, transfer to a buttered 17-by-12-inch baking dish. Cover; bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Uncover; bake until hot and golden brown, 30 minutes more.

* Many thanks to Martha Stewart Living for the recipe. You can check out the original recipe here. I also used their photo (upper right), and give them full credit for that lovely photo. The other two are mine.

Reader Comments (2)

Thank you Thank you Thank you!! I am the one who asked and you have just validated what I have suspected. There is really no easy way to remove the shells. It is just a pain and that's it, sorta like peeling a over ripe peach. Your recipe sounds delish though and your writing as ever is witty and a joy to read. Take a look at this video though, doesn't it look too good to be true?

November 19, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterkuby2u

Evey cookbook I have consulted recommends making a deep x cut on the FLAT side of the chestnut. Well, that's just plain stupid and hazardous. We've been doing chestnuts for over 40 years and cutting them on the rounded side is the way to go. Cut DEEEEP as you recommended, but peel while hot. That fuzzy inner membrane come off easier. We now steam them and keep them hot while peeling. No pain no gain!!

November 20, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterjhartmann

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