Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Menus, Chestnuts Especially

I love cooking this time of year.  Any time after Halloween and through Thanksgiving, Christmas & New Year's.  Hearty, fun, family food.  I was cooking on the line today and thinking of chestnuts.  You see, this year is the first year in many that I haven't used them on a menu this time of year.  Rapidly my brain thought of all the preparations I've done, and the other foods I've paired with them.  For fun, I'm going to list as many as I can remember.

- Chestnut soup, Jean Louis Palladin-influenced.  Onion, garlic sauteed in butter and duck fat, deglazed with white wine.  Chestnuts, a few potatoes for body, veggie or duck stock, cream.  Little orange zest.  Fix acidity with sherry vinegar.  Few drops truffle oil.  Finished with foie gras butter.

- Le Francais style puree.  Cook in syrup until falling apart.  Puree (little butter & cream never hurt here), dry out.  Pipe into small mounds.  Pair with venison or other game.

- Chestnut mousse for desserts, often piped onto something crispy (puff paste or fillo crisps).  Plenty of powdered sugar.  Pair with blood orange or similar citrus.

- Sauteed in a mix of veggies like brussel sprout leaves, dried cherries or cranberries, and/or roasted squash to accompany duck or other protein.

- Candied as garnish.

- Roasted, minces & then sauteed with bacon or panchetta as a potato soup garnish.  Adding chopped parsley & citrus zest makes this even more awesome.

- Paired with... pears!  All types, really, most preparations.  Apples & quince too!

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