Chestnuts are one of our much-loved signs of the coming winter. The scent of roasting chestnuts in the cold air always reminds me of New York City where, when I was a child, they were the highlight of trips to visit relatives each holiday season. The warm paper bag helped keep my hands warm. I can still hear the crinkling sound the bag made, which got more enticing as its contents emptied.
Chesnuts add a sweet earthy aspect and creamy texture to dishes. They have a tenuous history here in the United States as they have almost been wiped out of out here. They are making a comeback today thanks to hobby farmers.
Here is one of our favorite holiday dishes ~ (Fresh chestnuts are tough to find so you can use frozen or canned)
Chestnut Ravioli with Wild Mushroom Cream and Black Pepper Pecorino
24 Wonton Skins
2 c Chestnut Stuffing (recipe follows)
¼ c Egg wash
2 c Assorted Wild Mushrooms, sliced
¼ c Minced Shallots
1 tbs Minced Garlic
2 tbs Olive Oil
2 oz. White Wine
to taste Salt and Pepper
1/3 c Grated Pepper Pecorino
For the Ravioli:
Lay wonton skins onto a flat work surface, brush skins with egg wash. Fill each wonton with 1 walnut-sized ball of filling (be sure it is not overstuffed!). Fold bottom edge up to the top, seal well with a pinch, being sure to remove any air pockets. Place ravioli into the fridge covered with a towel.
For the Sauce:
In a medium-sized sauté pan, heat olive oil, add shallots and garlic. Cook one minute until translucent, add mushrooms and cook 3 minutes. Deglaze with white wine, cook one minute, add cream and bring to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper and keep warm.
Bring a large pot of water to a simmer; season the water with salt (it should taste like sea water). Remove ravioli from the fridge and place into simmering water. Cook for 3 minutes and drain. Toss into a touch of butter or olive oil to prevent sticking. Take 6 large bowls and spoon warm mushroom sauce into each. Top with 6 ravioli in each and finish by sprinkling with grated pecorino
3 c Frozen Chestnuts
1 c Minced Shallot
1 c Vegetable Broth
2 c Heavy Cream
tt Salt and Pepper
¼ c Grated Parmesan
Combine all ingredients into a small sauce pot. Simmer for 30 minutes or until chestnuts are tender. Drain and food mill the cooked nuts into a bowl, allow to cool. Add parmesan and incorporate well.