Last month Elements Theater Company presented two memorable weekends of Charles Dicken’s Christmas Carol in our church. Favorable comments were made about each little detail of the production, including one delightful feature that added much to my own enjoyment of the experience. This was the roasting of chestnuts out in the cold night air over an open fire in the church atrium before and after each performance.
I think of Christmas time as chestnut season and since childhood chestnuts, along with pomegranates, have to me always been as essential as holly and ivy to its celebration. Not only did we enjoy eating the nuts warm out of the shell, but at our house they were always considered a necessary ingredient to our holiday stuffing. That’s what made it so special and different from the stuffing we had the rest of the year.
The combination of sausage, chestnuts, apples and savory herbs still remains in my memory as a most extraordinary culinary Christmas experience. But there’s no reason it can’t be enjoyed, even after the holidays while chestnuts are still available. Here’s my suggestion for a cold winters night……stuff a nice crown or loin of pork and roast it for an unexpected, out of the ordinary dinner. I guarantee you rave reviews.
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
- 1 lb sausage meat crumbled
- 4 oz butter
- 1 cup onion(s) diced
- 1 cup celery diced
- 1 tbsp marjoram fresh, chopped
- 1 tbsp thyme fresh, chopped
- 2 quarts bread cut or torn into 1 inch cubes
- 4 oz chicken broth
- 4 oz cider
- 1 cup apple(s) diced
- 1 lb chestnuts roated, peeled, and cleaned, cut into quarters
- salt to taste
- black pepper
- Put sausage meat and butter into a hot casserole.
- Add onions and celery and cook until soft, but not brown.
- Remove from heat and add marjoram and thyme.
- In a bowl combine bread, vegetables, hot stock, cider, apples and chestnuts.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste. Mix well.
- Place in covered baking dish and bake for 30 minutes or stuff into roast.
- Add a sprinkling of pomegranate at serving time for a touch of color and extra flavor.
Been wondering about chestnut stuffing for some time and have always been hesitant using them in my traditional meat stuffing recipe, but this looks too good to continue ignoring. My parents who are from Sersale, Catanzaro, Italy always talked about growing up with an abundance of chestnuts, as that tree was one of the biggest things that helped Sersale grow in the early days. I remember the smell of roasting chestnuts in our home. Will be giving this recipe a try!