I always preferred my chestnuts roasted. Occasionally we even cooked them, but in the last years not anymore. And that was it. This year I decided to put an end to this: I searched for ideas on cooking with chestnuts and got myself to work: I’ve been shelling, peeling and mashing them for 3 days in a row. A hell lot of work! The result: a perfect chestnutt-y menu.
If you are a bit gourmet and especially, if you have never come further from eating roasted chestnuts, you simply have to move to the next step. This is how I did it.
For the start, it is important to choose your way of preparing chestnuts. What you can do, is:
- boil them, peel them and remove the skin, then scrape the contents,
- boil them, cut the round bottom part off and pass them one by one through the garlic press,
- roast them in oven and shell them or
- throw the whole chestnuts in hot oil for some minutes and shell them
… to name just a few.
I started with the first way, which is probably the longest and therefore requires the most of your patience.
Time consuming work… but it pays off!
My first dish was to be a velvety chestnut and brown lentils cream. Pairing the two flavours got renowned decades ago. I first heard of it from Karlos Arguiñano , one of my favourite chefs.
Arguiñano is the most popular (and famous) Spanish chef and TV cook show presenter. While living in Spain, I became very fond of his cuisine which consists of simple, healthy dishes as well as flavorful local specialities.
For the main course, I boiled the chestnuts just for a while, then peeled them off and continued cooking in little water. After the chestnuts absorbed most of the water I mashed them, and added some thyme and sour cream. I then spread this mixture evenly on turkey fillets, rolled them in a foil paper and let them roast in their own juice for half an hour.
Rolled turkey, seasoned with unrefined sea salt
Turkey with chestnut filling in its own sauce – one of the best dishes I’ve ever eaten
A tip: if you are left with some extra chestnut and sour cream mixture like I was, spread it onto a slice of bread and toast it in oven for some minutes. It makes a great snack!
Chestnut spread with tuna fish on slices of home-made spelt bread
For the dessert, I chose to make a famous French/Italian speciality, so-called Mont Blanc. It was named after the highest peek of Alps and was first documented in 1475 in the Italian book The honest cook of Giovanni Platina. However, in 1620 a French baker from Chamonix claimed the invention as his own and since then it has been known as a French dessert. Regardless of its origins, Mont Blanc is a must for every sweet tooth.
Note: this dessert is quite heavy, second only to baklava.
For the dessert, I decided to roast the chestnuts in oven. 20 minutes at 200ºC – it was easy to shell them
After shelling, I cooked them in milk with vanilla bean until the milk was absorbed
My version of the “white mountain”, flavoured with Baileys Irish cream and topped with soya cream. I advise you to prepare this dessert a day in advance – the 2nd day it is even tastier
Despite Juanpi’s initial resistance to eating chestnut dishes (due to his past unpleasant encounters with “uninvited guests”), he confessed that it was all very tasty. I was pleased myself, too. Especially, ’cause I made it through this biiig work. But it was worth every moment. It will definitely be on our menu again.
A little chestnut tip: some people don’t eat chestnuts because they can cause heavy feeling in the stomach. To avoid that, try to discard the germ (see photo), it will be of help.