CHESTNUT RECIPES

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Recipes by courtesy of the Chestnut Growers of Australia Ltd, PO Box 4, CHILTON, VIC 3683

NUTRITIONAL NOTES ON CHESTNUTS

Chestnuts are low in fat (only 1%) compared with other nuts which range to 50% fat. 100 g raw chestnuts contains 170 cals or approx. 700 kilojoules. Compare this with about 2600 kilojoules for most other nuts.

Chestnuts are 36% carbohydrate and similar to potatoes in this respect. Other nuts have 5% carbohydrate. Chestnuts are a good source of dietary fibre (6 g per 100 g).

Chestnuts are a useful source of vitamin E, thiamine, vitamin B6, folate, potassium and magnesium.

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USING CHESTNUTS

Buying:

The fresher chestnuts are, the firmer they will be. Chestnuts are still quite good if they are able to be dented slightly with thumb pressure.

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Storage:

Chestnuts should be stored in the refrigerator in partially closed container. Depending on their condition when purchased, they should keep for at least 10 days this way.

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To roast:

The simplest way to eat chestnuts is to roast, grill or BBQ them. First carefully make a cut through the outer shell to relieve the heat and pressure while cooking. Cook for 25-30 minutes on medium heat, turning after 15 minutes. Remove from heat and wrap in a towel or newspaper for 5 minutes. Remove the shell and the inner skin (pellicle) and they are ready to eat. If after cooking, your chestnuts are hard and dry, they are either too old or overcooked.

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To boil:

Chestnuts can also be eaten boil after removal of the pellicle. Alternatively, after boiling, they can be cut in half and the nut scooped out of the pellicle with a spoon.

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To peel:

Cover chestnuts with water; bring to the boil, draw aside from heat, take out one chestnut at a time and strip off both outer and inner skin with a sharp knife.

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To puree:

Place peeled nuts in a pan, cover with equal quantities of milk and water and simmer until tender. Drain, press through a wire sieve or blend in food processor.

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Once you’ve tried them roasted you may wish to venture into recipe use.

Chestnuts are ideal as filling for pies, chocolates and ice-cream, in cakes or as stuffing. They are found in traditional European recipes for soups, stews and pasta. They find a niche in modern times in stir fry style cooking.

They are a health treat for the whole family.

Some general serving suggestions:

Add cooked whole chestnuts to stir-fried vegetables
Stir pureed chestnuts through gravy or mashed potatoes
Add whole chestnuts to casseroles
Use chopped cooked chestnuts in cakes or desserts in place of hazelnuts, walnuts or almonds.
Roast or BBQ chestnuts and sprinkle with a little salt as a snack while the steaks cook.

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CHESTNUT SOUP

500g chestnuts
2 1/2 cups of milk
7 1/2 cups of chicken stock
1 tbs. flour
1 egg
3 tbs. sherry

Puree the chestnuts, add the chicken stock, butter and flour, and cook for 20 minutes. Just before serving, add egg beaten in the sherry.

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CHESTNUT AND VEGETABLE SOUP

250 g peeled chestnuts
1.5 litre stock (beef, vegetable or chicken)
2 leeks
2 carrots
2 onions
2 parsnips
2 sticks celery

Saute chopped vegetables and chestnuts in butter until lightly browned, add 1.5 litre of stock, simmer for one hour, season to taste.

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CHESTNUT AND LENTIL SOUP

500 g lentils
25 - 30 chestnuts
Ground black pepper
5 bay leaves
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
125 g streaky bacon, chopped
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
3 tablespoons dried basil (or chopped fresh basil)
3 tablespoons tomato paste
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Soak the lentils in enough water to cover them for 12 hours. Drain. Prepare the chestnuts to the point of readiness for cooking (soak if dried, roast and peel if fresh) Boil until soft (about 20 minutes) and crush into small chunky pieces.

Place the lentils in a medium pot and fill it with cold water to about 4 times the volume of the lentils. Add 1 teaspoon pepper and the bay leaves. Cover and bring to boil then simmer until the lentils are tender. Turn off heat and remove the bay leaves. Keep the pot covered.

Heat a 1/3 of the oil in a small pan and saute the meat. Add marjoram, basil, chestnuts and the tomato paste dissolved in 1/2 a cup of the lentil water. Stir well and cook until the sauce is thick.

Reheat the lentils, add the sauce and cook over a moderate heat for 1 hour.

The secret of many Italian soups is in the serving: in this case pour the soup over a bed of toasted bread in individual bowls. Pour 1 tablespoon of oil into each serving and offer grated fresh Parmesan cheese for garnish.

Lentils are quite dry in texture and the addition of extra virgin olive oil to the soup moistened and heightens the flavour.

Just the soup for cold wet nights when a substantial main course is absent.

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CHESTNUT STUFFING

1 kg chestnuts
1 egg
1 teaspoon sugar
pinch of dried herbs
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/4 cups of stock
125 g. of dripping
60 g. breadcrumbs

Peal the chestnuts and place them into the stock. Simmer for one hour. Then rub them through a sieve and add the egg and the dripping, mixed herbs and seasonings. Use as needed.

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GLAZED CHESTNUTS AND WINTER VEGETABLES

2 large kumera (sweet potato)
4 large parsnips
4 small red onions, quartered
12 whole garlic cloves, skin on
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves
1 1/2 cups peeled/blanched chestnuts
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup olive oil
salt, freshly ground black pepper

Cut kumara into large chunks. Cut parsnips in half lengthways. Combine all ingredients in a baking dish; bake, uncovered in hot oven (220C) about 45 minutes or until the vegetables are tender and browned lightly. Turn gently halfway through cooking. Serves 6 to 8.

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CHESTNUTS AND RED CABBAGE

500 g red cabbage
1 small onion
1 medium cooking apple
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups chestnuts
3 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon vinegar

Shred the cabbage finely and leave to soak in cold water for 1 hour. Peel and slice the onion and peel and quarter the apple. Melt the butter in a large saucepan and add the cabbage, onion and apple, season with salt and add the water and vinegar, cover with a well fitting lid and cook for 1 hour or until the cabbage is tender. While the cabbage is cooking, prepare and cook the chestnuts. Drain the cabbage through a colander, and return to the pan with a generous knob of butter, tip in the chestnuts and stir together lightly, finish with a good grinding of black pepper. Serve very hot.

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SPINACH SALAD WITH WARM CHESTNUTS AND BACON

6-8 cups baby spinach leaves, well washed
2 spring onions, finely chopped
3 rashers bacon, chopped or shredded
3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2/3 cup chestnuts (fresh or dried and rehydrated)
1 clove garlic
little balsamic vinegar
salt and coarsely ground pepper

Shake leaves as dry as possible and set aside.

Prepare spring onions and add to spinach. Coarsely chop chestnuts.

Heat oil in a pan and add bacon, chestnuts and garlic and saute until bacon is cooked and chestnuts are coloured.

Add balsamic vinegar and mix.

Pour over the greens, toss well and serve at once. Serves 4.

Hint: For a change of flavour, substitute walnut oil for olive oil. A lightly chopped, hard-boiled egg (still warm) may also be chopped through the spinach leaves.

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PENNE WITH MIXED MUSHROOMS AND CHESTNUTS

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3/4 cup chestnuts (fresh or dried and rehydrated)
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3 tablespoons butter 250 g mixed mushrooms (field, oyster, enoki, Swiss Brown) thickly sliced
1 tablespoon mixed, chopped fresh herbs (parsley, thyme, marjoram, chives, etc.)
250 g penne
shaved Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper
extra cracked pepper

Chop chestnuts. Heat the oil in a large pan and saute chestnuts over moderate heat until golden brown.

Add garlic and cook for one minute. Heat butter in saucepan and saute mushrooms until tender. Add the chestnuts and any oil in the pan and mix in, together with the fresh herbs.

Add a little salt and pepper.

Meanwhile cook the penne pasta in plenty of boiling water until “al dente”.

Drain well, and tip into a serving dish. Pour over the sauce, top with shaved Parmesan and cracked pepper.

Serve at once. Serves 4.

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CHESTNUT FLOUR CAKE (Castagnaccio)

115 g sultanas
450 g chestnut flour, sieved
1/2 teaspoon salt
cold water
olive oil
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
3 tablespoons pine nuts
1/2 tablespoon dried rosemary

Cover sultanas with cold water and leave to soak for 15 minutes, drain and dry. Mix together the chestnut flour, salt and stir in enough cold water to make a batter which is slightly thicker than pancake batter.

Oil a shallow cake tine and pour in the batter, smooth it with a spoon, then scatter over the caraway seeds, pine nuts, rosemary and sultanas.

Drizzle a little more oil over the top and bake in a moderately hot oven (190 C) for 10-15 minutes or until the surface is crispy. Serve warm or cold with chilled white wine.

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CHESTNUT CREAM

1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 pint milk
4 egg yolks
2 oz. caster sugar
1/2 oz. gelatine soaked in 2 1/2 oz. water
7 1/2 oz cream lightly whipped
2 egg whites whipped
Whipped cream to decorate 250 g. chestnut puree

Cream yolks, sugar and vanilla thoroughly, strain on the milk, thicken over heat, stirring continually without boiling, allow to cool. Dissolve soaked gelatine over a gentle heat and add to custard. Turn chestnut puree into a bowl, stir in custard by degrees. Set bowl in cold water, fold in cream and lastly whipped egg white.

When at setting point turn into lightly oiled mould and allow to set. Turn onto serving dish, pipe a ruff of cream around. Serve with caramel berry sauce.

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CHESTNUT AND CHOCOLATE TERRINE

1 kg chestnuts
125 g unsalted butter
1 cup castor sugar
250 g cooking chocolate
vanilla, rum or brandy

Place the chestnuts in a pan, cover with cold water, bring to the boil. Remove the nuts one at a time and skin them. Simmer the peeled nuts in water until tender with vanilla to flavour. Drain and puree. Cream the butter and sugar until soft and white. Melt the chocolate with half a cup of water and, when cool, add to the butter mixture. Add the chestnuts. Flavour with vanilla, rum or brandy. Turn into a loaf pan that has been lined with “bake” wrap. Chill overnight. Turn out and serve in slices with whipped cream and chocolate to decorate. Serves eight.

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CHESTNUT TORTE WITH CHERRIES

3 eggs, separated
1/2 cup castor sugar
1 1/2 cups ground chestnuts
1/4 cup fine bread crumbs
2 medium apples, grated
450 ml cream
sugar to taste
450 g pitted cherries (canned or bottled), drained

Grease 8” spring form pan. Set oven temperature moderately slow. Beat egg yolks with sugar until mixture thick and light. Fold in ground chestnuts, bread crumbs and apples. Beat egg whites until stiff but not dry and fold into the batter. Pour into prepared tin and bake in the moderately slow oven for 45 minutes. Cool in the pan then remove. Place on serving plate. Whip the well chilled cream with sugar to taste until to stiff. Spread cream around the sides of the cool torte. Fold cherries in the remaining cream and pile on top of the cake. Chill for at least an hour before serving in wedges for dessert.

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DRUNKEN CHESTNUTS

1.2 kg chestnuts
60 g granulated sugar
240 ml dry red wine

Pre-heat oven to 180C
With a sharp knife, make a slit on the rounded side of each chestnut. Arrange the chestnuts in a single layer in a baking pan.
Place in the oven and bake for 30 mins.
Remove the chestnuts from the oven.
While they are still warm, remove the hard outer shells and inner skin.
In a saucepan over low heat, combine the wine and sugar.
Heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
Add the chestnuts and cook until the wine is reduced to a thick syrup, about 30 mins.
Transfer the chestnuts to a serving dish.
Serve with your favourite dessert wine.

Recipes by courtesy of the Chestnut Growers of Australia Ltd, PO Box 4, CHILTON, VIC 3683
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