Nov Dec 2018
From Chris Halpin
Chestnuts have always held a festive charm for me. Wistful
thoughts of chestnuts roasting and eating them with butter and
salt; all so romantic! But the truth is, if I am going to be actually
cooking with them, I always go the easy route and buy a jar of
boiled and peeled chestnuts. They freeze well (up to six months)
and can be cut easily while still frozen. All so much more convenient,
and they have the same wonderful flavour. You will find
them in most Italian or German markets and some specialty food
shops. In all these recipes, I am using this type of chestnuts.
Shaved Brussels Sprouts and Radicchio Salad with Chestnuts
This is a perfect winter salad – the
vegetables and chestnuts have a
wonderful counterpoint. To make
the dressing, in a bowl whisk
together 1/4 c. avocado oil and
2 T. maple syrup. Whisk in 1/4 c.
white wine vinegar and 1 t. finely
minced shallots and set aside. In
a salad bowl, put 1/2 head cored
and finely sliced radicchio, 6
Brussels sprouts, finely sliced, 4 chestnuts, roughly crumbled, and the dressing,
and toss well. Add salt and pepper to taste, toss again and serve.
Butternut Squash and Chestnuts with Sage
The richness of the squash sits
beautifully with that of the chestnuts.
While the sage and onions
bring out the earthiness. This is one
of my favourite turkey-dinner sides.
In a large skillet, over medium heat,
put 2 T. butter and 1/4 c. olive oil.
When the butter has melted, add
1 red onion, finely sliced, and
sauté for about 2 minutes. Then
add 3 c. peeled and diced butternut squash, sauté for about 1 minute. Then add
1 t. salt, 1/2 t. pepper, 1/2 t. dried sage, sauté to evenly coat and cover with
a lid, then stir from time to time until the squash is softened, about 5 minutes
more. Just before serving, stir in 8 chestnuts, roughly crumbled, and 4 fresh sage
leaves, finely chopped, adjust the salt and pepper.
Serves 4 to 6.
Cauliflower and Chestnut Soup
I have always liked the idea of
cauliflower soup, but found it hard
to come up with one that was
full flavoured, yet not another
“cheese” soup. The chestnuts add
a lovely creamy quality to the soup
and enhance the cauliflower in such
a nice way. In a large pot, over high
heat, put 3 c. chicken or vegetable
stock, 2 c. chopped cauliflower, 6
chopped chestnuts, 4 minced garlic cloves, 1/4 t. nutmeg, salt and pepper to
taste. Once this has come to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
When the cauliflower is very tender, remove from the heat and purée in a blender
until smooth. Return to the pot and bring the soup back to the boil before serving.
Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with a little bit of chopped chives.
Tortellini with Sausage, Chestnuts and Rapini
This is a fast and easy weekday
dinner, with a little bit of “wow
factor” thrown in. Place a large
pot of water over high heat and
bring to a boil. While this is happening,
place a large skillet over
medium heat and add 3 spicy
Italian sausages with 1/4 c.
olive oil. Fry the sausages, turning
from time to time, until they
have cooked through. When the water is boiling, add 1 small package of cheese
tortellini and boil until tender, about 5 minutes. Remove the sausages from the
skillet and place on a chopping board for later. In the same skillet put 1 red onion,
thinly sliced, and sauté for about 3 minutes. While this is happening, slice the sausages
into 1-inch rounds and return to the skillet. Drain the tortellini and leave it in
the colander until you need it. Now add 4 rapini stocks, cut into 2-inch pieces to
the skillet and sauté for a minute. Then add 4 chestnuts crumbled, the tortellini,
season with salt and pepper, sauté for another minute before serving. Spoon the
pasta onto plates and garnish with grated parmesan.
Pan-Seared Pork Tenderloin with Chestnuts and Brandy
Chestnuts, pork and brandy are all
on the same flavour plain. It seems
like each helps to bring out the best
qualities in all. Salt and pepper
1 large pork tenderloin. In a heavy
skillet, over high heat, put 2 T.
butter. When the butter is sizzling,
add the pork and brown on
all sides. Once the pork is evenly
browned, remove from the skillet
and set aside. Turn the heat off, then add 3 garlic cloves, minced, 1 t. crushed
fennel seeds and 1/2 c. brandy. With a wooden spoon, rub the bottom of your
skillet to deglaze. Add 1 c. water, return to medium heat and bring to a boil, return
the pork to the skillet and cover. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes,
turning from time to time. In the last 5 minutes of cooking, add 6 chestnuts,
roughly crumbled, adjust the salt and pepper to taste. When the pork is cooked,
remove it from the skillet to rest, while you are finishing the sauce. Make a paste
with 1 T. cornstarch and 1/4 c. water, stir into the sauce and thicken. Slice
the pork into medallions, arrange on plates and spoon sauce over, garnish with
Serves 2 to 4.
Raspberry Coulis over Ice Cream
The chestnuts, cinnamon and cocoa
mix to make a flavour all their own
and so delicious. Preheat your oven
to 350ºF. In a bowl, sift together 1 c.
flour, 4 T. cocoa powder, 1/2 t.
cinnamon and set aside. In another
bowl, put 1 c. butter, at room temperature
and 3/4 c. brown sugar,
and with an electric beater, whip
until fluffy. Add the dry ingredients
and beat until smooth. To this, add 8 chestnuts, finely crumbled, and with a wooden
spoon, work them into the dough. Drop teaspoon-sized balls on to a parchment-lined
or lightly greased baking sheet. Bake in the oven for 15 to 17 minutes. Remove from
the oven and cool. Once cooled, dust with icing sugar.
Make 2 dozen.