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Chestnut Stuffing with Caramelized Onions, Apples & Calvados

Chestnut Stuffing with Caramelized Onions, Apples & Calvados

Each week I contribute an article to “Whole Foods Market Cooking Boulder” website expanding on one of the 10 Ways Tuesday ideas. This week I shared a recipe for Chestnut Stuffing with Caramelized Onions, Apples & Calvados as well as my thoughts on the art and science of good stuffing. I gave the jarred pre-roasted chestnuts a try and found their flavor to be sweet and rich with a nice meaty texture. If you’ve never cooked with chestnuts, working with the roasted and peeled ones is a great start. Once you get to know them, you can give roasting and peeling fresh ones a go.

Chestnut Stuffing with Caramelized Onions, Apples & Calvados

Sweet and savory caramelized onions add depth to this chestnut stuffing with juicy apples. Calvados is an apple brandy from France that infuses the stuffing with a warming, comforting flavor. I always use brioche for my stuffing because I love the buttery character and texture- crisp and golden on the outside, soft and moist inside. I believe you can never have too much herbs in your stuffing, so this recipe calls for a generous amount of sage and thyme. If you forget to spread the bread cubes out on a tray to dry out overnight, simply dry them in a 200 degrees Fahrenheit oven for a few minutes.

Serves 8

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
  • 1 gala apple, peeled, cored, then chopped into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup apple brandy
  • 10 ounces brioche bread, cut into 1/2 inch cubes and allowed to dry out overnight on a tray
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh sage
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 14 ounces jar of roasted chestnuts, roughly chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 cups homemade chicken stock
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted (8 tablespoons)
  • salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Make the caramelized onions. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and turn the heat down to medium. Cook onions, stirring occasionally, until deep golden brown. This should take about 15-20 minutes. Add a splash of water if the onions start to stick. Remove the onions from the pan, season with a pinch of salt and set them aside.

Add a tablespoon of olive oil to the skillet the onions were cooked in. Warm the oil over medium-low heat and toss in garlic and celery, sweating for a couple of minutes. Monitor the heat so the garlic and celery do not take on any brown color. Add the diced apples and cook about 5 minutes, until softened. Sprinkle the mixture with a pinch of salt. Turn up the heat to medium-high and pour in the apple brandy. Deglaze the pan, scraping up the brown bits from the bottom with a wooden spoon. Simmer the apples in the brandy for a couple of minutes until most of the liquid is absorbed. Remove the pan from the heat and set the apple mixture aside.

Place the bread cubes in a large bowl with the caramelized onions, apple mixture and juices, sage, thyme, and chestnuts. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Toss the ingredients well to combine. Pour the stock and melted butter over the stuffing and let it soak in for 10 minutes.

I spoon the stuffing into a 8×11 inch ceramic baking dish (feel free to use anything close to that size) and bake in the oven until the top is crisp and the stuffing is heated through, about 40-50 minutes. During baking, it’s a good idea to check the stuffing occasionally and make sure it’s not getting too brown on top. I like to give it a stir every 15-20 minutes and add a bit more stock or butter if the stuffing seems to be drying out. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.


Chestnuts (c)2011

Peeled & Roasted Chestnuts