Hooray, my first subbing gig for the Flavors blog! Kim asked me to take on Chestnuts for her, which I gladly accepted. I have loved chestnuts since my aunt started putting them into her Thanksgiving stuffing. A few years back I made a Chestnut and Porcini Soup which was delicious, and mushrooms were highlighted as complements for chestnuts in the Flavor Bible. I had dried porcini in the pantry, and chantrelles happened to be on sale that week. Additional ingredients I pulled from the Flavor Bible were cream, shallots, butter, Marsala, and thyme.
Oh, and about those chestnuts. I've tried the usual technique of cutting an x into the bottom, roasting, then attempting to pry the stubborn little things from the shells. Bloodshed, cursing, and a mess was the result. This time I tried another way which was much more successful. Cut the chestnuts in half, then put them in a ziploc bag with a drop or two of water. Seal the bag, and lay it flat in the microwave, so the chestnuts are in one layer. Microwave for 40-60 seconds, until soft. Let sit for a minute to cool, carefully open the bag, and the chestnuts should easily separate from their shells. Worked a treat!
Chestnut and Wild Mushroom Crostini
2 shallots, diced
1 Tbs. unsalted butter
3 cups sliced fresh mushrooms, preferably some of which are wild, such as chantrelles or shitakis
1/4 cup dried porcini, soaked in hot water, then drained. (strain and save liquid)
1 cup chopped chestnuts
3 Tbs. Marsala wine
pinch fresh chopped thyme
3 Tbs. heavy cream
1 baguette, sliced
Heat a large skillet. Saute the chopped shallots in the butter until translucent, then add the fresh and soaked/ drained dried mushrooms. Cook until liquid emerges then evaporates. Let the mixture brown slightly, then add the thyme, Marsala and a Tablespoon of the mushroom soaking liquid. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the chestnuts, and then the cream. Let the cream glaze the mixture, cook down a few minutes. Keep warm while you toast the crostini.
Toast the baguette slices. Top each with a spoonful of the mushroom-chestnut mixture, and serve.