Thursday, October 29, 2009

Chestnuts warm you up

There's something about the taste of a chestnut that warms me up, that evokes memories not my own, all the way back to the hunter/gatherer days.

This weekend at the veggie store I picked up a pound or so of chestnuts.  The absolutely easiest way to eat them is by making a half-inch cross-cut in the shell (otherwise, they explode) and roasting them for twenty minutes or so in a 350 oven.  Yum!

A hundred years ago, there were more than 3 billion American Chestnut trees in the U.S., but almost all were decimated by a blight.  A few groves of the American Chestnut have been discovered and there's still some hope resistant strains can be bred, but for now we don't have to go chestnut-less because blight-resistant Chinese Chestnuts grow well here.

Chestnuts have much less fat than other nuts and have been compared to brown rice in nutritional value.  I looked for a site online where I could capitalize on their low-fat benefits but instead found some recipes so decadent I gained weight reading them.  Here's one; check out others at Buy Chestnuts.

From Frank A. Marra Jr. of West Virginia

2 8 oz. packages of Portabella Mushrooms - diced
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 stick butter (not margarine)
6 cloves garlic - diced finely
16 oz.heavy cream (2 half pint containers)
1 tablespoon fresh parsley - chopped
2 tablespoons of flour - optional 1/2 pound to a pound of Chestnuts - Prepared (shelled and chopped into quarters)

Combine olive oil and butter in a saucepan over medium low heat. Add sliced Portabella Mushrooms and garlic. Sauté until reduced by half. Add the cut up chestnuts and continue to warm through. Add the heavy cream and work down again until warm and bubbly. Season to taste. Sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley.
If sauce is too thin, up to 2 tablespoons of flour can be whisked in immediately after the addition of the heavy cream.
Serve over baked potato or pork chops.
A special Thanks to Frank A. Marra Jr. from West Virginia for sharing his special recipe!
Photo from Kanko's photostream at Flickr.

1 comment:

peacesojourner said...

When I was growing up in London, England, there would be chestnut stands on the street corners with a metal open fire that the vendors roasted them on. The chestnuts were served in a triangular shaped cone and we would happily walk along the street while eating them.
I think that this tradition may be coming a thing of the past with new fires safety laws, etc..
Makes for great memories though :-)