Turkey day is around the corner and there have been a few changes as of late.  Good changes.  A chance to regroup and take a little time for moments normally barred by routine.  A hike in the woods was the perfect adventure for a warm November day.  Even though the world may seem stripped bare of all color and life there were still remnants hiding among the dead leaves.  Little hands make quick work finding treasures hidden along the way.  Pieces of mossy bark, interesting sticks and rocks, mushrooms, pine cones and small red sticker-bush berries.  I am quickly flooded with memories of the things that captured my interest as a child. 

    My mother would take us on walks or bike rides around our neighborhood every day.  We would race down the hill and make the first turn left.  On this corner I remember there was a chestnut tree, long since gone. I recall picking up the chestnuts and placing them in my pocket, taking time to admire the smooth skin and interesting shape.  We never ate them, and they very well could have been horse chestnuts anyway, but to me they were still treasures.  I guess that is why I have always been interested in chestnuts.  I remember on several occasions making my mother purchase some for me so I could roast them "Christmas carol style."  You know, roasting on an open fire but not really because you don't have a real fire place and they have to cook in the oven anyway.  Then they burn, and no body eats them. Needless to say that Chestnuts have not been on the menu for a long time since. 
    I'm really not quite sure why I thought of chestnuts this fall.  Perhaps it was this recipe I discovered one day and just knew I had to make.  Had I known what I was getting into I might have passed up that big basket of chestnuts in the grocery store.  Chestnut peeling is definitely a test of patience, will power and finger strength.  It is frustrating even for me, the extreme lover of repetitive and tedious tasks.  But the outcome is well worth it, which is why I wanted to make one more chestnut condiment that I could share at Thanksgiving.  I'm not sure why I went with a chutney, because I'm not actually big a fan.  However, I am a big fan of all the ingredients in this particular chutney, so why the heck not.  Grab a few handfuls of chestnuts and get in the season.  It almost makes me want to throw on a few Christmas carols. Almost.

Chestnut Chutney with Red Onion and Fennel

makes 2 pints

1/3 cup olive oil
5 large red onions, thinly sliced
4 small fennel bulbs or 2 large, thinly sliced
2 cups cooked, peeled chestnuts
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup cider vinegar
1 cup sherry

1 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste


Cook and peel the chestnuts by scoring the skins with a "X" and placing them in boiling water for 20 minutes.  Peel the chestnuts making sure to get the secondary layer of skin.  Set them aside.  Heat the oil in a large skillet, add the onions and fennel and cook gently for a half hour, until the onions are very soft.  Coarsely chop the peeled chestnuts and add them to the pan along with the sugar, vinegar and sherry.  Season well with 1 teaspoon of salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.  Let the mixture simmer, stirring occasionally for about 1 hour or until the liquid has thickened.  Take this time to set up a water bath canner. Funnel the chutney into clean, hot jars and process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.  Allow chutney to cool completely before serving. 

-If you would like to avoid canning you can store chutney in refrigerator for 3-4 months.

-This chutney is lovely with a little cheese (think really good blue cheese) or bread.  It can also be used to spruce up some thanksgiving leftovers.
 
 


Comments

11/21/2013 5:57pm

I've actually never cooked with chestnuts before. I'm not even entirely sure if I've eaten them... and if I did, really don't have any concrete memory of it. I think that needs to change, although if even you don't like the labor intensive process of peeling them, I'm not sure if little old me can handle it! Great looking recipe and photos, as always, Sandra!

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11/21/2013 7:17pm

Thanks!! I'm not going to lie Chris, the peeling process sucks. But the taste of chestnuts is like no other. It might be worth one try ;)

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11/21/2013 6:30pm

I also love all of the ingredients in that jar! What a great idea for a gift. I just made chestnut soup for the first time the other day, and it had sherry in it too. So good. I would love some of your chutney smeared on crusty bread...and some wine ;)

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11/21/2013 7:22pm

Chestnut soup sounds wonderful. I would gladly join you for some wine and chutney on bread alongside some chestnut soup....you bringing the bread? hehe!!!

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Wow I've never heard of chestnut chutney before, it sounds so interesting though! I love chutney so definitely bookmarking this recipe!

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11/27/2013 5:31pm

I'm not normally a big fan of chutney but this one I love. Thanks for stopping by Lilian :)

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11/28/2013 1:35pm

I am not a big chutney fan either, but this sounds absolutely wonderful! This reminds me that it is important to keep an open mind. Thanks for posting it.

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12/01/2013 7:34pm

Thanks for dropping by Adri. I also have to remind myself to always keep an open mind :)

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11/29/2013 2:59pm

I love your blog and layout. It's so clean. And beautiful pics too!

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12/01/2013 7:33pm

Thanks Amanda! So glad you stopped by to take a look :)

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