Roasted chestnuts

news: Roasted chestnuts

I LOVE the roasted chestnuts that are sold on street corners here at this time of year – warm, lightly salted and very satisfying.Chestnuts are remarkably versatile and can be used for soup, main courses and desserts. Also, you can substitute them for mashed potatoes, with butter, salt and pepper.

Try to peel the chestnuts so they are ready to cook. If this is not possible, score the beautiful brown shell, put a layer on a baking tray and roast for about 20 minutes in a medium to low oven (125C or 300F). Finish, by putting them into a large pan of boiling water and cook for a further 20 minutes. Plunge them into cold water and the skins and surrounding fibre should come off quite easily.

Chestnut stuffing

1 lb (500g) chestnuts, prepared

as above

1 large onion, chopped

3 to 4 stalks of celery, chopped

1/2 lb (250g) sausage meat

1 teaspoon dried mixed herbs

(including sage, parsley, and thyme)

or half a cup of fresh chopped herbs

1/2 cup (125g) butter

Salt and pepper

Dash of brandy

This is an excellent stuffing for turkey or other poultry. Purée the chestnuts until they form a smooth paste. Put the chopped onions and celery in a pan and sauté in the butter until they are transparent.Remove this mixture and put in a bowl with the chestnuts. In the same pan, lightly fry the sausage until it has lost its raw pink.Drain the fat from the meat and add to the chestnut mix. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.Stuff the bird as you would with any other mix.

Chestnut cake

1 lb (500g) chestnuts, prepared as above

1/2 cup (125 ml) light cream

1/3 cup (100g) sugar

1 oz (50 ml) brandy

1/4 teaspoon vanilla essence

6 egg whites

8 oz (200g) cooking chocolate

This recipe for a classic chestnut cake is one of many versions. Prepare the chestnut purée and add the cream, sugar, brandy and vanilla essence. Beat the egg whites until firm and fold into the purée mixture. Pour it into a flan tin (about 9 1/2 in or 24cm) which you lightly grease with butter and place in a moderate oven (150C or 350F) for one hour.When the cake has cooled, melt the chocolate in a double boiler and spread over the cake. Serve with whipped cream or ice-cream.