Chestnut Stuffing

The best chestnuts are the ones imported from France, where commercial production is centred on Privas in the Ardèche, in northern Languedoc. There the nuts are cultivated, with most of them being canned or sold as sweetened and unsweetened purées. The best nuts are used for the toothachingly sweet marrons glacés. These days the best way to buy chestnuts is vacuum-packed. These are fresh, have been peeled and are in every way superior to the tinned variety. This stuffing can be cooked inside a bird if desired.

Ingredients

  • 450 g/ 1 lb peeled chestnuts
  • 600 ml/ 1 pt chicken stock
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • 30 g/ 1 oz butter, plus more for greasing
  • 170 g/ 6 oz onion, diced
  • 450 g/ 1 lb minced pork
  • 2 tbsp chopped flat-leaved parsley
  • 2 tbsp brandy or rum
  • ½ tsp ground allspice
  • salt and pepper

Method

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/ gas 4. Put the peeled chestnuts in a pan with the stock, celery, bay leaf, salt and sugar. Bring to the boil, lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Top up with water if they become uncovered.

Melt the butter in a frying pan over a low heat. Add the diced onion, stir and sweat until soft.

In a bowl, mix together thoroughly with a fork the onions, chestnuts, minced pork, parsley, brandy or rum, allspice and salt and pepper. Take a spoonful, mould into a patty and fry. Taste this and adjust the seasoning of the raw mixture accordingly.

Pack into a 900-g/ 2-lb non-stick loaf tin. Cover the top with a buttered paper. Cook standing in a bain-marie in the oven for 1 hour 20 minutes, when it will be firm to the touch.

Leave for 10 minutes before turning out and slicing.

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