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Appalachian Appetite: Thanksgiving chestnut stuffing – Asheville Citizen |

Appalachian Appetite: Thanksgiving chestnut stuffing – Asheville Citizen

Thanksgiving, that day of culinary marvels, a day to pull out all stops, is almost here. Along with the simple cranberry sauce from last week’s recipe, the ultimate complement to your turkey (or whatever fowl you may have chosen to celebrate the day) is a chestnut stuffing. This can be prepared in advance and stuffed inside your bird just prior to baking, or can be prepared while the bird is baking to save time and highlight the textures of the dish. I prefer the latter method, as your bird will cook more quickly unstuffed and your stuffing (or dressing, as some like to call it when it is prepared alongside) has more “umph!”


Ingredients:

2 cups prepared chestnuts

4 celery sticks

1-2 onions

French country-style bread

Several sprigs of fresh sage

Red pepper flakes

Salt pepper to taste

Several tablespoons olive oil or bacon fat or turkey drippings

Preparation:

If starting with fresh, whole chestnuts, soak them briefly in water, cut them in half with a sharp knife, and put them in a glass bowl in the microwave for 1 to 2 minutes. When they are steaming hot, you can simply pop them out of their hulls (watch your fingers!) and proceed with your recipe. Alternatively, you can score your chestnuts with a cross on one side and roast them until the hull begins to peel back. This is a great way to prepare them for eating, with a sprinkling of coarse-grained salt, but the microwave method is by far the fastest and easiest.

Meanwhile, chop and sauté your onions and celery. A half-inch dice is good for the onions; a bit finer for the celery. In a separate skillet, heat some more fat (I prefer bacon fat or turkey drippings, but if you have vegetarians in your midst, this recipe is excellent prepared with olive oil), and place your cubed bread (a ½-inch dice is good here too) on to brown, with the chopped sage, salt pepper, and a sprinkling of red pepper flakes, to taste.

Add chestnuts to onions and celery, season as you have the bread crumbs, and drizzle with turkey drippings extracted from the oven, or with a bit of chicken broth if the ensemble is becoming too dry.

 At this point you can cover the chestnut mixture to let it cook a bit more in its own heat, and turn off the flame under both skillets. Shortly before service heat both skillets again, and stir in the breadcrumbs just before transferring the ensemble to a pre-warmed serving dish.

Bon appétit!

Susi Gott Séguret is a Madison County born chef, author, photographer, musician. Find out more at www.schoolofculinaryarts.org.

Category: Skillets  Tags: ,  Comments off
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