It seems weird to be posting a decidedly fall dish on December 24th but such is the world of blogging. Chestnuts are a late fall thing according to the book but I think Christmas might be the season - I can recall fall travels to New York and seeing old guys roasting them on the street corners. Heck, chestnuts even feature in popular Christmas songs (everybody sing along with me now . . . . chestnuts roasting on an open fire . . . Jack Frost nipping at your nose . . .).
Up until last year I had only ever seen or read about chestnuts. When I had to do my recipe for the previous blog challenge all I got to do was to boil them in red wine resulting in an OK result that was messy and made my fingers very, very wine stained for weeks causing my colleagues to worry about me.
One of the challenges with chestnuts is in cleaning those suckers. The internet is full of tales of exploding chestnuts when folks tried to roast them without cutting open the shells properly or of folks requiring extensive red wine therapy after trying to remove the bits of shells from the tender nuts. Really, there is nothing inviting about chestnuts . . . and then you taste them and think 'wow, it was worth it!' For the record, I used the technique that Amy blogged about yesterday and it worked a charm.
When I was perusing the chestnut entry in the 'Flavor Bible' I quickly realized that I go to sweet or savoury and is my style I went svoury. I combined brandy, butter, cream, mushrooms, onions, pepper, pasta, sage, stock (chicken), and thyme in this recipe. The result was amazing!!!!
Gnocchi with Fall Vegetables and Chestnut Sauce
1 lb fresh gnocchi
3 tbsp butter, divided
2 cups sliced cremini or button mushrooms, about 6 oz
3 cups cubed winter squash, about ½ inch pieces
1 small leek, thinly sliced white and light green parts only
¾ cup chicken broth or stock, divided
1 tbsp chopped fresh sage
3½ oz cleaned chestnuts, chopped, about ⅔ cup
2 tbsp brandy
½ cup whipping cream
2 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 to 2 green onions, thinly sliced
Shaved parmigiano cheese
Cook gnocchi in a large pot of boiling salted water according to package directions, usually 3 to 4 minutes or until those little suckers float to the top of the boiling water. Drain, briefly rinse under cold running water and drain again. Set aside.
Heat 1 tbsp butter in frying pan over medium to medium-high heat until hot and bubbly. Add mushrooms; sauté 2 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from pan; keep warm.
Add another 1 tbsp butter to frying pan. Sauté squash cubes until lightly browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Sprinkle sliced leeks and chopped sage over top. Add ¼ cup chicken broth; cover and reduce heat so vegetables simmer for 5 to 7 minutes or until just tender - NOTE - do not go upstairs and visit facebook on your PC whilst this is happening as you may burn your squash if the liquid cooks off . . . just saying . Add to mushrooms; keep warm.
Chop chestnuts. Heat final 1 tbsp butter in same frying pan over medium heat until hot and bubbly. Sauté chestnuts for 3 to 4 minutes or until lightly browned; deglaze pan with brandy (mmmmm brandy - glaze the cook's eyes titch by swigging some straight out of the bottle).
Stir in remaining ½ cup chicken broth, cream and thyme. When bubbling, add gnocchi. Cook, stirring gently, until hot and thick. Taste; add salt and freshly ground black pepper as needed.
In warmed serving dish, heap gnocchi and sauce. Place vegetable mixture on top of gnocchi. Garnish with sprinklings of green onion and shaved parmigiano cheese. Serve right away.