Holiday Chestnut Recipes

Chestnuts are often an afterthought; a holiday touch added to stuffing or a wintery treat from a street vendor. Here, discover three recipes that feature chestnuts center stage, allowing their unique flavor and health benefits to shine. Also, read our full feature on Chestnuts as a Holiday Treat!

Chestnut Fennel Soup
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  1. 2 cups roasted, shelled, skinned chestnuts (1 pound in shell or 14 oz bottled whole; divided)
  2. 1 shallot, chopped
  3. 2 leeks (white and pale green only), chopped
  4. ¾ stick unsalted butter (6 tablespoons; divided)
  5. 2 tbsp dry white wine
  6. ½ fennel bulb (sometimes called anise), stalks and core discarded and bulb coarsely chopped
  7. 1 cup chicken broth
  8. 2½ cups water
  9. ¼ cup half-and-half
  10. Salt and pepper
  1. Coarsely chop chestnuts, reserving ⅓ cup for garnish. In a 5-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, cook shallot and leeks in 2 tablespoons butter until softened. Add wine and simmer until almost all liquid is evaporated—about 1 minute. Stir in fennel, broth, ⅔ cup chestnuts (save ⅓ cup for garnish) and water; then simmer, covered, for 20 minutes. Stir in half-and-half and cool mixture slightly.
  2. Purée mixture in batches in a blender until smooth (use caution when blending hot liquids), transferring to a bowl. Return soup to pot and bring to a simmer, thinning with water, if desired. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. While soup is reheating, heat remaining 4 tablespoons butter in a heavy skillet over medium high heat until foam subsides; then sauté reserved chestnuts with salt and pepper to taste, stirring constantly, until crisp and butter is browned—about 4 minutes.
  4. Serve soup with remaining ⅓ cup of chopped chestnuts and browned butter drizzled on the surface.
  1. Note: To boil chestnuts, cut an X in each chestnut. Place the nuts in boiling water for 15 to 25 minutes or until tender. Chestnuts are done when the shell starts to peel back and the thin brown seed coat between the shell and the meat rubs off easily. If the seed coat sticks, cook the nuts a little longer and try again.
Natural Vitality Living
Brussels Sprouts with Bacon & Chestnuts
Chestnuts are delicious, but can be a major pain to roast and shell (have you ever exploded chestnuts all over your kitchen? I have). Canned chestnuts (or jarred, more likely) actually work better in many recipes than the kind you roast and peel yourself. The texture and moisture content is more consistent. So, we suggest using canned roasted chestnuts for this recipe. You can of course roast and shell your own if you prefer.
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  1. 1 lb Brussels sprouts
  2. ⅓ lb thick-sliced bacon or slab bacon, cut into ¼-inch pieces or batons
  3. 1 red onion, chopped
  4. 20–25 canned roasted chestnuts, quartered or roughly chopped
  5. ¼ cup chicken stock
  6. Salt and pepper to taste
  7. Lemon wedges to serve
  1. Put a large pot of salty water on the stove to boil. While the water is heating, cut the Brussels sprouts in half and slice thinly, starting at the top of the sprout and working back toward the stem. Discard the hard tip of the stem side.
  2. Cut the bacon into pieces about ¼ inch wide and put them in a large sauté pan over medium heat.
  3. Once the water is boiling, add all the Brussels sprouts and boil them for 2 minutes. While the sprouts are boiling, get a large bowl of ice water ready. Transfer the Brussels sprouts to the ice water (this will shock them vibrant green and stop the cooking) and chill thoroughly. Move to a colander to drain.
  4. When the bacon is browned, remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Remove all but 1 tablespoon of the bacon fat (do not put down the drain) from the sauté pan. Turn up the heat to high; add the red onions. Cook until the onions begin to brown; add back the bacon.
  5. Add the chestnuts and Brussels sprouts to the sauté pan with the bacon and onions. Add the chicken stock and toss to combine. Stir in about 1 teaspoon of salt, more or less to taste. Cook over high heat for 2–3 minutes. Add pepper to taste.
  6. Serve hot with lemon wedges. Squeeze a little lemon juice over the sprouts right before you eat them.
  1. Serves 8–10 as a side dish.
Natural Vitality Living
Chestnut Custard Tart
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  1. For the sweet pastry dough:
  2. ½ cup room-temperature unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  3. 2 cups of all-purpose (plain) flour, sifted
  4. 1 whole egg
  5. ½ cup confectioner’s sugar
  6. ⅛ tsp baking powder
  7. For the pastry cream/custard:
  8. 2 cups whole milk
  9. 2–3 tsp of vanilla
  10. ⅓ cup plus 1 tbsp plain flour, sifted
  11. ½ cup granulated white sugar
  12. 6–8 tbsp chestnut purée
  13. 4 egg yolks
  1. For the pastry: In a bowl, combine the butter and sugar. Using an electric mixer on low, beat until smooth.
  2. Add the egg and beat until creamy. With a spatula, fold in the flour and baking powder; then beat with the electric mixer, again on low, until dough is evenly mixed and clings together.
  3. Shape dough into a ball, cover in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least two hours. Bring to room temperature before use.
  4. For the pastry cream/custard: In a large bowl, combine egg yolks and sugar with a whisk. Whisk in flour and set aside.
  5. In a large saucepan over high heat, combine the milk and the vanilla and bring to a boil.
  6. As soon as milk boils, remove from heat and whisk half of hot milk into egg mixture.
  7. Return milk to burner. As soon as milk comes to boil again, add egg-milk mixture and whisk vigorously.
  8. Stir mixture over high heat until it thickens and starts to boil again.
  9. Remove from heat, pour into a bowl, and press plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the custard to stop a skin from forming.
  10. Allow to cool completely before using.
  11. Assembly: Preheat oven to 350° F.
  12. Remove dough from fridge and allow to come to room temperature.
  13. Flour work surface and rolling pin before turning out dough. Roll dough into a rough circle, about ¼ inch thick and wide enough to line a 10-inch pie dish. Pick up dough by rolling it around pin. Lay onto pie dish.
  14. Press dough gently onto dish and trim edges with a knife. Remove custard from fridge and immediately, using a spatula, dump and smooth so it’s about ½ inch deep.
  15. Very carefully do the same with the chestnut purée, making sure not to disturb the custard. It’s best to do this when custard is still cold, as this makes it less likely that you’ll mix the purée and custard together while you spread one on top of the other.
  16. Bake for 40–50 minutes or until chestnut purée has bubbled, thickened and looks shiny. Allow to cool thoroughly before serving at room temperature, sprinkled with powdered sugar and with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or dollop of whipped cream.
Natural Vitality Living