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.
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.