Chestnut stuffing tip--cheap & easy peeled nuts, plus a recipe request
The first time I had Thanksgiving dinner with my in-laws-to-be (none of us knew it at the time), my generation got assigned the task of shelling chestnuts for Mom's chestnut stuffing. Hilarity ensued. My husband and his brothers weren't good at peeling the nuts and were even worse about getting the nuts into the bowl rather than their mouths. The next year, I picked up 2 pounds of chestnuts in advance, roasted and peeled them myself, and brought them with me.
But today, that's just a memory because nearly every Asian market has bags of pre-peeled roasted chestnuts at insanely affordable prices. A 3 to 5 ounce bag goes for $0.99 to $1.39 in the DC area. I wanted to pass this tip along to my fellow hounds because no one should pay $6.99 for a jar of peeled chestnuts in a gourmet store! If you're in the DC area, Grand Mart, Super H, Han au Rheum, and Sam Kam all carry them year-round.
Now does anyone have any killer chestnut stuffing recipes to share? Suffice it to say, my husband never pines for his mother's cooking.
Hey, PollyG, I am also making chestnut stuffing this year, since the chestnuts are so widely available here in Beijing (though they are a bit smaller than French chestnuts, the flavor is great). The recipe I use is pretty simple, from Gourmet magazine in 1993:
6 cups torn bite-size pieces of day-old homemade-style white bread
2 onions, chopped
4 ribs of celery, chopped
3 tablespoons minced fresh sage leaves
2 tablespoons minced fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary leaves
1 tablespoon minced fresh savory leaves
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
3/4 pound chestnuts, chopped coarse (about 2 cups)
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
Heat the oven to 325°F. In a shallow baking pan arrange the bread pieces in one layer, bake them in the oven, stirring occasionally, for 10 to 15 minutes, or until they are golden, and transfer them to a large bowl. In a large skillet cook the onions, the celery, the sage, the thyme, the rosemary, and the savory in the butter over moderately low heat, stirring, until the vegetables are softened, add the chestnuts, and cook the mixture, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the vegetable mixture to the bread pieces, tossing the mixture well, stir in the parsley and salt and pepper to taste, and let the stuffing cool completely. The stuffing may be made 1 day in advance and kept covered and chilled.
I just got a nice size bag at Trader Joes, roasted chestnuts imported from Italy. Around $1.99? Figured I'd put half out with the appetizers and throw the rest in the sausage and apple stuffing. I guess you chop them up; good thing I looked here, I was going to put them in whole!!
In Aisan market they have dried chestnut and peeled and very clean. When refreshed they can be almost as good at fresh, while nothing is better than fresh, I am not sure the effort is worth the work. I too remember us peeling chestnut for hours. I hated doing the work but loved the results.
This is so quick and easy. I have no idea where I got it, but it compares favorably with the stuffing made by my English mother-in-law who is a very fine cook.
To make 4 cups, which fills the bow of a large (20+ lb.) turkey:
Chop 2 ½ cups peeled steamed chestnuts in the Cuisinart until reasonably fine (how fine is a matter of taste, but I prefer not too fine and sometimes mix fine- and coarse-chopped). Combine with ½ cup melted butter, 1 tsp salt, some pepper (to taste!), ¼ cup cream, 1 cup of bread crumbs and ½ cup chopped parsley. Stuff. Except for melting the butter, all cooking occurs in the bird. That's it.
Question, though: any suggestions of sources for the best (tastiest) pealed chestnuts? For eating or baking? Any preference for frozen vs. vacuum-packed? Roasted vs. steamed? Price is relevant but not controlling. I only do this once or twice a year and can't seem to remember.
I just stocked up on these cheap 99 cents chestnuts, they are from China. I also have a jar or two of the $6.99 ones that are from France. Taste the same to me, but texture is a little different. If money were no object, of course I'd get the French, but with the cheap ones I can use them in everything, all the time.
Nut and Sausage Stuffing
• Herb seasoned stuffing by Pepperidge Farm
• 2-3 italian sausages (sweet)
• 1 Onion finely chopped
• 2 Stalks Celery - finely chopped
• Handful of Pecans or Chestnuts (optional) - chopped
• Raisins or dried Cranberries
• 1-2 apples - finely chopped
• Chicken Broth
• Fresh parsely
• Sage few dashes
Note: I throw in a couple of beaten eggs after mixture is cooled, but this is optional.
Over medium heat in deep large pot:
Break sausage into small pieces and brown sausage. Remove sausage from pan and clean pan.
Add 4 tablespoons of butter to pan. When melted add the onion and celery. Once softened (about 3-5 minutes) add apples and cranberries or raisins. Cook 3-5 minutes. Add chestnuts, return sausage to pan and remove from heat.
Add one bag of stuffing, and chicken broth 1 cup at a time until mixture is moist but not too wet. Place in turkey or in baking dish (if in baking dish, add chicken stock).
Bake at 325 for 45 minutes (if in baking dish).