Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Two Lovely Chestnut Recipes

I promised I'd cook more with our native chestnuts this year while they're in season, and in the last week I've made not just one, but two spectacular chestnut dishes.

First up, we enjoyed this beef and chestnut stew as a welcome-home dinner for my parents last week when they returned from their narrowboat for the winter, with roast potatoes, parsnips and sprouts. I confess I read a few chestnut/meat stew recipes and decided it was fair play just to use my signature beef-stew-and-dumplings recipe, which always goes down a storm, and simply throw in chestnuts too - they're a lovely seasonal addition that add rich, earthy nuttiness and succulence. It's great hearty winter food, and a nice alternative to a Sunday roast. The dumplings use oil instead of the traditional suet and are really tasty!

Beef, Guinness and Chestnut Stew with Dumplings
(serves 6)
  • Dice 600g or so beef and sear in hot oil in small batches in an ovenproof pan until sealed and browning on all sides. (I usually use quite a high quality lean steak, but you can use cheaper stewing beef and simmer it for longer if you prefer.)
  • Remove beef from the pan and throw in 6-8 rashers chopped bacon and a handful of whole, peeled shallots. When the bacon's cooked, add the beef back in and stir in 3 tbsps plain flour.
  • Add a bottle and a half of Original Guinness or other stout. That's... let's see... 750ml. You can sip the rest ; )
  • Add a generous sprinkle of mixed herbs, half a teaspoon of mustard powder, a beef stock cube and some white pepper. Stir and simmer a few minutes.
  • Add two or three large carrots and a small swede, diced. Add around 200g roasted chestnuts (optional).
  • Now cover and let that simmer gently for half an hour or so - no need to be precise - while you prep veggies and make the dumplings...
  • In a bowl, mix 250g plain flour, 1 tsp salt and 2 tsps baking powder. (You can also add a pinch of dried thyme or other herb if you like.)
  • Gradually add 150ml milk and 2 tbsps olive or rapeseed oil, bringing the dough together with a fork. You might not quite need all of the milk - stop when the dough comes together (if you add too much your dough will be too sticky to manage and you'll end up with crazy-shaped dumplings like mine above - whoops!) Knead briefly, roll into walnut-sized balls, and arrange on top of your stew.
  • Put the lid back on the stew and place in an oven at 180C for 35-40 minutes. Remove the lid for the last ten minutes of cooking, to let the tops of the dumplings turn golden-brown.
  • Serve with your choice of winter veggies. Yum!

Chestnut Cookies

These are a delicious and wonderfully Christmassy treat, dusted with icing sugar on the outside, moist and buttery in the middle, with a hint of spice. They're perfect with tea - or a tot of something stronger - and certain to please at parties, I reckon.

I used Smitten Kitchen's recipe here so I won't reproduce it, but I will heartily recommend it! The cookies needed a slighter cooler temperature in my oven - I had better results at 200C for 14 minutes. I also experimented (can't help myself) by taking half the dough and adding 2 tbsps cocoa powder and 2 tbsps brandy, and they were really good too (probably even better with rum - and best served cold, while the plain ones are awesome served warm), but you know, I don't think this recipe can really be improved upon - the flavour of the chestnuts shines through and really doesn't need any more help than the touch of cinnamon and nutmeg provided. Delicious.


Roger Distill said...

I can vouch for both of these - the stew and the cookies - MOST excellent! Thanks for the meal, Nome - it was very welcome!

Anonymous said...

Gawd that stew looks gorgeous!  ツ

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