One of the things I bought at the farmer's market yesterday was chestnuts, a quart for $2. I have no idea if this is a good price or not, having little experience with chestnuts aside from snacking on a few raw that I've gathered in the woods. However, being slightly obsessed with chestnuts, I just couldn't pass them by. I am a huge sucker at the farmer's market.
It wasn't the first time I couldn't resist the allure of the chestnut though... several years back, I bought a very pricey jar and tried to follow an enclosed recipe for roasted brussel sprouts with chestnuts. Moral of the story: never try new recipes at Thanksgiving dinner. Everyone smiled politely, but the recipe was dismal, at least the chestnut portion. It was a huge disappointment for me. The brussel sprouts were actually pretty good, though.
So this afternoon, with my lazy weekend, I turned to The Joy of Cooking to see what to do with my chestnuts. There was no recipe for roasted chestnuts, and precious few choices at all, so I opted for the chestnut puree. I scored each chestnut with an x on the flat side, and boiled them briefly as directed, then proceeded to pull them out and shell them, tossing the few wormy specimens out the window for the squirrels. This process took me over an hour.
Then I still had to boil them again, this time longer, for 30-45 minutes. The book suggested boiling them in milk for a sweet presentation, or in broth for a savory dish. Not having any milk, I went with a can of chicken broth. After the prescribed 45 minutes, the broth was essentially all absorbed/evaporated, but unfortunately, the chestnuts weren't mushy yet. Having no more broth, I decided they would have to be done. I added a few tablespoons of butter, and using a handheld pastry blender, tried to puree them.
It was only semi-successful. I suspect a food processor would have produced a better puree. My end product is a lumpy mash, pale brown in color. The flavor is very nice, but I am not entirely certain it was worth all the effort, especially since SodaBoy turned up his nose and refused to even sample the concoction. Joy said that the puree is traditionally served as an accompaniment to game meat, particularly venison. I am not a hunter and have no game meat handy.
What should I do with this stuff? Besides just eat it with a spoon, that is.