Winter Comfort Recipes From Marcia Selden Catering
In our latest recipe post courtesy of Marcia Selden Catering, we spoke with Managing Partner/Executive Chef, Robin Selden on the topic of winter comfort recipes using chestnuts. Read on for recipes and in-depth details on cooking with chestnuts!
The Skinny on Chestnuts
Harvested from October through March, December is the prime month for fresh chestnuts. If you are unable to find them fresh, most markets sell them canned, pureed, or preserved in sugar or syrup (marrons glacés).
Choose fresh nuts that are smooth and glossy, free of blemishes. They should feel heavy for their size. Avoid any that are shriveled, cracked, or rattle in their shell. Shake the shell. If you hear movement, you know they are drying out.
Fresh chestnuts will dry out easily, so keep them in a cool, dry place, and use within 1 week. Fresh nuts in the shell can be placed in a perforated plastic bag and stored in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator up to 1 month, depending on the freshness factor when you purchase them. Fresh chestnuts can be frozen whole in their shells up to 4 months.
Shelled and cooked nuts should be covered, refrigerated, and used within three to four days. Cooked chestnuts, whole, chopped, or pureed, may be frozen in an airtight container and held up to 9 months.
Although referred to as nuts, the meat inside is soft and starchy, more akin to grains rather than crunchy like traditional nuts. It is the only nut primarily treated as a vegetable due to its starch content. Chestnuts are gluten-free, and a chestnut meal is a wonderful substitute for flour in most recipes.
Our favorite way to cook chestnuts is to roast them. Begin by slicing either a large X along the flat side before roasting. Place on a baking sheet in a 400-degree F. oven for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Peel and enjoy.
To roast in a fire, take an aluminum pie plate and punch rows of holes. Make cuts in chestnuts or puncture them to release steam and place on a grill over white-hot coals. If you have a chestnut roaster for the fireplace, all the better.
Truffled Chestnut Risotto
This risotto might just be the perfect winter meal. The combination of roasted chestnuts and truffle oil create an intensely satisfying aroma and flavor.
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 C. Arborio (risotto) rice
1 C. white wine
5 C. hot chicken stock
¼ C. cooked chestnuts, sliced (roasted are best but vacuum- packed are fine)
1 C. frozen petite peas (optional)
2 Tbs. unsalted butter, diced
¼ C. Fresh Grated Parmesan cheese
1 Tbs. chopped flat leaf parsley
1-2 Tbs. truffle oil
Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until soft and translucent, about 2 minutes. Stir in the rice and cook for 2 minutes. Turn up the heat and add the wine – it should sizzle as it hits the pan. Cook for about 2 minutes to evaporate the alcohol.
Once the liquid has reduced, begin adding the hot stock a ladleful at a time over medium heat, allowing each addition to be absorbed before adding the next, and stirring continuously. The rice should always be moist but not swimming in liquid. This
process should take about 18 minutes.
Add ½ of the sliced chestnuts, along with the peas (if using), to the risotto and cook for an additional 4 minutes. Properly cooked risotto should be al dente, which means that it should be slightly firm to the bite; creamy, not dry.
Stir in butter, and gently add the sliced chestnuts. Garnish with parmesan cheese, parsley, and truffle oil and serve immediately. Magnifico!
Chestnut Pancakes with Cranberry Maple Syrup
The addition of chestnuts lends a rich, slightly nutty flavor and texture that scream lazy snow day breakfast.
1 C. all-purpose flour
2 tbs. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
3 Tbs. chestnut puree
1 C. milk
2 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted
1 large egg
Vegetable oil for the skillet
Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder; set aside.
Combine the chestnut puree with milk, butter, and egg. Add dry ingredients to milk mixture; whisk until just moistened (do not overmix).
Heat a large skillet (nonstick or cast-iron) or griddle over medium. Oil rub skillet with oiled paper towel. For each pancake, spoon 2 to 3 tablespoons of batter onto skillet.
Cook until the surface of pancakes have some bubbles, 1 to 2 minutes. Flip carefully with a thin spatula, and cook until browned on the underside, 1 to 2 minutes more. Transfer to a baking sheet or platter; cover loosely with aluminum foil, and keep warm in the oven. Continue with more oil and remaining batter. (You’ll have 12 to 15 pancakes.) Serve warm, with desired toppings.
Cranberry Maple Syrup
¾ C. pure maple syrup
1 C. fresh or frozen cranberries
1 Tbs. unsalted butter
Combine maple syrup and cranberries in a pot and bring to a low a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low, and simmer 3 minutes or until cranberries pop. Crush cranberries in a saucepan using a spatula. Add butter, and stir until melted. Keep warm until ready to use.
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