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Posts Tagged ‘herbs’

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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One of the blogs I’ve been following for quite some time now is the Sew Mama, Sew! blog, affiliated with the online fabric store of the same name. In fact, it was through their semi-annual Giveaway Day that I first got drawn into the world of blogging, as I wrote about here. Currently they’re running a contest on handmade tablescapes, and I figured it was just the incentive I needed to get off my duff and write a little more about some of the DIY details of my wedding. For those of you new to my blog, you can read more about my September wedding here, here and here. Without further ado — a look at our wedding tables:

Cabbage roses, herbs, and light shades of brown (burlap, kraft paper, linen) were the name of the game.
The wedding table

Some of the elements that we wove throughout our wedding decor were herbs, chocolate, art deco vintage, DIY, typewriters, and local food.Place settings

DIY item #1: Embroidered table numbers. We had three long tables, with two to three embroidered table numbers on each, set on a stack of art deco style vintage books for height. The flowers on the embroidery were motifs that I copied from the Liberty of London fabric I used as backing for our ring pillow (as well as scanned in and printed for envelope liners). I also used Liberty fabrics to cover clothespins for our photobooth display.
Embroidered table numbers

Another embroidery example below. I originally intended to cover the entire number with a satin stitch so it was opaque, but I ran out of time! (I finished embroidering an hour before the rehearsal dinner — lucky for me, I find embroidering a great way to sooth jitters…)
Embroidered table numbers

DIY item #2: Paper bees. Quick and easy DIY! I simply bought a bee punch and stamped a bunch of paper bees out of a local food magazine (Edible Boston), in keeping with our local-food themed dinner. We nestled a bee into a sprig of rosemary on each napkin (we got married at an herb farm).

Napkin Accents

We then bought a bunch of bulk herbs and potted them in terra cotta pots for table decorations — a different herb for each table. The symbolic meaning of each type of herb used was written out on the back of the ceremony programs along with a list of guests and corresponding tables.
Potted herbs

DIY #3: Stationery items. My amazing stationer, Helen at Papier Lapin, designed our invitations using kraft paper and typewriter fonts. How thrilled was I when I found a supplier of the EXACT same kraft paper she used, and was able to download the same fonts for free online? Using her invitations as a style reference, I made hang tags for place cards with kraft cardstock, kraft reinforcements, and green butcher’s twine. We tied each one to a cookie and used them as combo place card/favors.
Place card/favors

Again, using the invitations as a style guide, I designed and printed up menus to be placed underneath the favor/hang tags.
Menu

And bless my best friend, who not only got her fiance to brew beer for our entire wedding, but who also downloaded the same fonts and designed labels for the beer using kraft sticky labels.
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I was shocked when I learned how much vintage blue mason jars cost… Luckily I found a tutorial online to do a faux blue finish using a thinned glass paint. The jar pictured here is actually a Classico spaghetti sauce jar! My then-fiance and I ate a lot of spaghetti and pickles leading up to the wedding to amass enough jars for centerpieces 🙂
DIY faux mason jars

And a final look at the whole table — pickle jar front and center!

A look at the finished table

I loved the way everything turned out…especially the part where we said “I do.”

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