Cooking with chestnuts

Melanie Johnson shares a recipe for a delicious stuffing.

“When I was growing up, every year, my mother would take my sister and I to see Father Christmas at Harrods. Afterwards, we’d treat ourselves to hot chestnuts sold by a man outside. He’s long since gone, but it started a tradition in the family and chestnuts will always be on my Christmas menu”

Chestnut-and-cranberry stuffing (serves 4)

200g roasted chestnuts
150g dried cranberries
100ml Port
2 rashers bacon
1 onion
400g sausagemeat
200g fresh breadcrumbs
Handful fresh parsley,
3 sprigs thyme, chopped
1 sprig rosemary
1 egg, beaten

Preheat your oven to 200˚C/400˚F/gas mark 6. Cut a cross into the skin of the chestnuts and roast them for 25 minutes or until the skin starts to peel away. When they’re cool enough to handle, peel and roughly chop them.

Soak the cranberries in the Port until they’re nice and plump. If you’re short on time, you can microwave them for a minute or so to speed up the process.

Finely dice the onion and fry it in a little butter. Cut the bacon rashers into lardons and add them to the onion, frying until they’re cooked. Mix the sausagemeat, breadcrumbs, parsley, thyme, rosemary and beaten egg in a bowl, then add the cranberries, bacon and onion and mix again.

Roll the stuffing into small balls and arrange them around your turkey in the roasting dish. They’ll need 35 minutes or so in the oven to be fully browned.


More ways with chestnuts

Chocolate-and-chestnut Yule log

Cut a cross through the skins of 500g raw chestnuts. Arrange on a baking sheet and roast in a hot oven for 20 minutes or until the skins start to peel back. Once they’re cool, peel and tip into a saucepan with enough water to just cover them. Pour in 200g sugar and 1 tspn vanilla-bean paste and simmer for 20 minutes. Strain, reserving the liquid, and blend to a smooth paste in a food processor, pouring in just enough of the liquid so that the purée has the consistency of hummus. Once it’s cooled, mix with 100g whipped double cream and refrigerate.

Place a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Whisk together 3 eggs and 75g sugar over it until thick and creamy. Remove from the heat, then sift in 50g plain flour and 25g cocoa powder, folding together gently with a metal spoon. Spread the mixture onto a parchment-lined Swiss-roll tin and bake in a moderately hot oven for 10 minutes. Turn out on a cocoadusted board, spread with the chestnut purée and roll up into a roulade. Dust with more cocoa powder and serve.


Buttered and spiced roasted chestnuts
Cut a cross through the skin of some chestnuts and roast for 25 minutes. Melt 25g butter, then add 1 tspn each of cinnamon and sugar, followed by a pinch of salt. When the chestnuts are cooked, peel them, drizzle with the spiced butter and serve.


Wonderful wild mushroom recipes

Baked into tarts, or stirred into a beef stroganoff with spinach dumplings: just two of our favourite wild mushroom recipes