A splendid treat for Thanksgiving (or really any fall day), seek this magical dish, clinic despite its luxurious texture, ailment is actually not all that high in calories. It’s not low, low cal but ain’t a gut buster either! And it is delicious. It fills you up easily without leaving you longing to eat more.
I have a tendency to over salt this dish. Chestnuts, especially in combination with butter, tend towards sweetness. I enjoy savory and sour tastes more, so with this dish I tend to keep adding salt until it dominates the natural sweetness. So, lesson learned – know your palate and be cautious with the salt on this one.
I once made a grown man cry by paring this dish with Amarone. Amarone gives you “rich on rich” sensation but here it really works. The balsamic and fig notes of the Amarone seamlessly compliment the rich, truffly, sweet notes of the dish. While my personal preference is to back off the scales a little bit and serve a Ripasso, most of my dinner companions are much more excited by the magnitude of the former. I tend to pour Bussola (why not go HUGE if you are going to go big) but Mazzi is more to my personal taste.
In the opposite direction, Brunello lights up this dish in a completely different way. Brunello gives a contrasting spirit, a levity and liveliness to the combination. In this case the more traditionally styled the Brunello the better – Constanti, Sesti and, if you have the means, Soldera Casse Basse are enlivening pairings.
Syrah works well too, but make it a domestic Syrah. A little bit more fruit heft and weight is desirable. Northern Rhones alongside this dish’s sweetness come across as tart and thin.
Serves four people as a side course at about 210 calories. But much here depends upon the pre-packaged goods – chestnuts, stock and truffle puree. For those of you hard core kitchen folk this recipe is far better by starting with whole chestnuts, homemade stock, and whole truffles but I just don’t have the patience, especially for Thanksgiving dinner! But if you have got the time then go ahead! Alter at will.
15 oz (1 large jar) whole roasted and peeled chestnuts
16 oz (half of a box) vegetable stock
2 oz dry sherry
4 leaves bay leaves
2 tbs. butter
3.2 oz (1 jar) truffle puree
To taste salt
To taste black pepper
1. Place chestnuts, stock, sherry and bay leaves in a stock pot. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 15 minutes or until chestnuts are heated through and soft.
2. Place the butter in a food mill. Using a slotted spoon transfer the chestnuts (and chestnuts only – leave the bay leaves behind) to said food mill. Reserve the liquid. You can transfer them to a food processer and proceed with the rest of the directions but I prefer the texture a food mill provides. Add the jar of truffle puree to the food mill. Puree the chestnut / butter / truffle mixture through the food mill.
3. Once fully processed scrape the bottom of the food mill free of chestnuts. Check the consistency of the puree. Usually it is quite stiff. Add salt and black pepper to taste. Begin adding the cooking liquid into the puree checking every ¼ cup of liquid. I like a fairly thick puree, you may prefer yours looser. There is no correct answer – just keep tasting and checking until you are satisfied. Serve!