Easy Chestnut and Bacon Casserole
Use whole, unsweetened, ready peeled chestnuts for this recipe. You can either buy them in tins or in packets from the supermarket.
This is quite a quick recipe for a casserole (many of which require hours in the oven), and takes about ½ hour to make.
Did you know that chestnuts are the only low fat nuts there are? So if you are on a low fat diet, don't worry about cooking with chestnuts or chestnut puree. Whole chestnuts can be used in salads or any dishes in place of beans or pulses, and are a very useful store cupboard standby if you have a vegetarian in the family.
1 x 200g / 8 oz pack smoked bacon
8 oz / 200g pack button mushrooms
1 large or 6 small leeks, washed and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
4 tbsp fresh chopped parsley
10 oz / 275g whole peeled chestnuts
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 glass red wine
½ pt / 275ml vegetable stock
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1. Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the garlic.
2. Add the chopped leeks until they start to soften (about 4 minutes).
3. Chop the bacon into 2cm (1 inch) chunks, and add this to the leeks. Fry until the bacon has browned, and the liquid in the pan has reduced (bacon has quite a lot of water in it).
4. Add the mushrooms, and continue to cook for 5 minutes, until the mushrooms have softened and reduced.
5. Add the tomato puree, chestnuts, red wine and most of the vegetable stock. Mix well, and season with pepper. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat, cover the pan and simmer for 15 minutes, adding the rest of the stock if the mixture becomes too dry. You should end up with a thick gravy.
6. Remove from the heat, mix in the parsley, and serve hot.
This recipe freezes well.
How to cook chestnuts and what to buy
1. Before cooking, chestnuts must be peeled and skinned. It is almost impossible to do this successfully when they are completely raw, so first par-cook them by roasting them in the oven for 5 minutes or so (nick the shells with a sharp knife first, or they will explode), or by bringing them to the boil in a pan of water. Remove the shells and the inner pale brown skin (which you can rub off with a tea towel) while they are still hot. If you leave them to cool to much it will be impossible to peel them.
2. Alternatively, you can buy them dried and skinned, in which case they should be soaked over night before cooking.
3. The best chestnuts to use in cooking are the whole 'sous vide' chestnuts (this is the French for the vacuum packed, whole, variety, sold in the supermarkets). They either come just in the vacuum packs, or packed into small boxes. You can also buy them whole and in tins.
4. Chestnut puree is sold in tins, and comes either sweetened or unsweetened, so be careful which you buy.
Reproduced by kind permission of Gilly Brookes