With Thanksgiving just passed and Christmas round the corner it is time for me to start thinking about things I can do for our Christmas dinner. While I don’t generally do stuffing, special occasions require a bit of stuffing with your roast.
It is often possible to get stuffing which is bread-free but it is usually more like a meatloaf than stuffing. Then it struck me that I could mash up sweet chestnuts and turn them into a stuffing. There seems to be a bit of debate about whether sweet chestnuts are paleo or not, especially since the sweetness in them is apparently caused by the starches changing into sucrose (table sugar) rather than any other kind of natural sugar, but it’s still available in the wild and I therefore see it as ok, at least in moderation.
It’s still not going to be a great solution to my own Christmas dinner, since my brother-in-law is allergic to nuts and sweet chestnuts are a form of tree nut. While some nut allergists are not allergic to sweet chestnuts, I don’t really want to risk it. However, it’s definitely something to keep in the bag for a few other special roast dinners.
Before I set out the recipe it is worth noting that this stuffing didn’t really hold together, instead breaking up into bits. If you like your stuffing to hold together then I suggest beating an egg (or two, depending on how much you want it to hold together) and stirring it into the mixture just before placing it into the dish for baking. My personal preference is to leave it a bit more “bitty” so that it can soak up all the sauces on the plate instead.
150g thick cut unsmoked bacon slices, cut into small chunks
2 medium onions, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp parsley, chopped
Zest and juice of ½ large lemon
- Start by cooking the chestnuts. These can be boiled, baked or roasted but be sure to pierce the skins before cooking to stop them from exploding. I roasted mine by cutting a cross into the shell, roasting on a dry baking sheet at 190C for 15 minutes and then shelling while still warm. Be warned that it takes a while to shell chestnuts so I actually did this the day before I made the stuffing.
- Heat a couple of tablespoons of oil in a pan and gently fry the onion, bacon and garlic over a medium heat, stirring frequently to make sure they don’t burn.
- While the onion and bacon is cooking, roughly mash the chestnuts in a bowl – not as easy as it sounds!
- Once the onion and bacon are soft and cooked add the chestnuts, butter, parsley and lemon (zest and juice) to the pan.
- Stir over a medium-low heat until the butter is melted and the mix is holding together in a single clump.
- If you want to use as a cavity stuffing then place into the washed out cavity of a turkey or chicken before roasting. Alternatively, my preference is to put it into a roasting dish and bake in the oven for 45mins to an hour (depending on whether you are doing other things in the oven at a medium or high heat) until browned on top.