Thanksgiving went down a little differently this year. Rather than celebrating the holiday at my father's house, my boyfriend and I joined my sister at her in-laws' for dinner. We were treated to an absolutely amazing meal (Thanksgiving with an Italian spin), and by the time we finished dessert (yes, I ate two pieces of pie), I seriously began to wonder whether I'd fit through the door when it came time to hobble out of there.
Even though Stephen and I eagerly shoveled in the food (while exhibiting perfectly good manners, of course), there were some dishes I consider to be favorites that were missing from the meal: Green Bean Casserole and our family's Apple Chestnut Stuffing. I've waxed poetic about chestnut stuffing before, so I'll spare you from having to read all about my obsession with it... But you can bet your sweet bippy I made both dishes upon our return to New York on Sunday afternoon! After all, I had to have something to serve with the chicken I was roasting for dinner, right?
What makes this stuffing so special is the addition of fresh chestnuts and chunks of apples. As the stuffing bakes, the apples help keep it moist and add tremendous flavor. And, for anyone who has ever peeled chestnuts, you can attest to the fact that doing so is a major pain in the ass and preparing any dish involving fresh chestnuts is an act of pure love. Thankfully, our family has made the chore slightly less annoying by using the microwave to help remove the outer shell and the inner skin.
How To: Peel Fresh Chestnuts
- Cut a deep "X" into the flat side of each chestnut with a sharp paring knife.
- Place the chestnuts "X"-side-up on a microwave-safe plate.
- Microwave the chestnuts for 30-45 seconds.
- Remove the plate from the microwave and, working quickly, pull the outer shell and inner skin away from the flesh of the chestnuts. Be careful! Those chestnuts are hot!
- If you have trouble removing the shell/skin from some of the chestnuts, just put them back in the microwave for another 30 seconds and repeat. Don't cook them for too long -- they'll begin to turn rubbery if you do.
Once you try this Apple Chestnut Stuffing, you may find yourself falling in love with it, too. And, even though we traditionally think of stuffing as a Thanksgiving staple, you could easily serve this as a side to your Christmas turkey or ham. Or, you could do as I do... and make a pan of it just for yourself.... in the middle of a cold winter month that lacks a major holiday.
Apple Chestnut Stuffing
- 5 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup white onion, chopped
- 1 cup celery, chopped
- 1 cup fresh chestnuts, chopped
- 1 large McIntosh apple, peeled and chopped
- 2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
- 1 14-ounce package herb-seasoned stuffing
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Melt the butter in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the onions, celery, chestnuts, and apples. Cook for 5 minutes, or until the apples have begun to soften. Remove the pan from the heat.
- Add the vegetable broth and the stuffing to the pan. Mix lightly. Spoon the prepared stuffing into a greased 3-quart casserole dish. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes.
- Uncover and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes to brown the top.
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