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Chestnut Stuffing

This recipe is part of the “Celebratory Goose Dinner” miniseries. For the complete menu, timetable, and printable shopping list, see the introductory post.

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What could be more romantic than a holiday goose with chestnuts? And in the form of stuffing to boot? Having never roasted chestnuts before — be it on an open fire or in my oven — I was excited to give it a try.

I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to find fresh chestnuts, but Trader Joe’s did not disappoint. From the outset, I couldn’t help but marvel at how darn pretty they are. There’s a reason writers will flatter their subjects with descriptions of “chestnut locks,” as opposed to feeble “brown hair.”

On a far less romantic note, however, I found that the reality was that several nuts were green-veined with mold on the inside and had to be discarded. For this reason alone, I might recommend you go the pre-packaged route, unless, like myself, you want to use fresh ones for the pure experience of it.

So pull back your chestnut locks and let’s get cooking:

Chestnut Stuffing
adapted from Gourmet, November 1993

  • 1 pound fresh chestnuts, shelled and peeled, chopped coarse, or ¾ pound vaccuum-packed whole chestnuts, chopped coarse (about 2 cups)
  • 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 (½ cup) unsalted butter
  •  ½ cup finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • Chicken stock, as needed for moisture
  • Salt and pepper to taste

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With a sharp knife cut an X on the round side of each chestnut. Spread the chestnuts in one layer in a jelly roll pan, add ¼ cup water, and bake the chestnuts in a preheated 450°F oven for 10 minutes, or until the shells open. Remove the chestnuts, and shell and peel them while they are still hot.

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Reheat the oven to 325°F. In a shallow baking pan arrange the bread pieces in one layer and bake them in the oven, stirring occasionally, for 10 to 15 minutes, or until they are golden. Transfer them to a large bowl.

In a large skillet cook the onions, celery, sage, thyme, rosemary, and 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. Remove the vegetable mixture from the stove; add to the bread pieces, tossing the mixture well. Stir in the parsley. Stir in chicken stock until desired consistency is achieved; salt and pepper to taste. 

Transfer stuffing to a baking dish and bake at 350°F until warmed through and crisp on top, about 30-45 minutes. Stuffing may be made 1 day in advance and kept covered and chilled.

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Tips from The Hungry Crafter:

I really wanted to love this stuffing, but came across a couple of issues:

  • It was really, really dry as originally written. So I added in the chicken stock as indicated above.
  • I discovered I plain old don’t care for nuts in my stuffing. That said, I felt like it was a little lacking in pizzazz. I tried mixing in some prunes for a little oomph in a trial batch. Mr. M spit it into the garbage. Oh well. I suppose forcing prunes upon him was pushing my luck, although I preferred that iteration myself. Moving on.
  • It desperately needed sausage in it. Because all stuffing needs sausage in it. I’m not sure what brought me to consider a stuffing recipe without sausage in it, to be frank. Live and learn.
  • I couldn’t find savory in the store so simply omitted it. I doubt that the addition would do much to change my overall opinion of the recipe.
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