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.
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
Leave for 10 minutes before turning out and slicing.
© 1998 Alastair Little and Richard Whittington estate. All rights reserved.