By: Mario Wyn-JonesServes: 6
CERTAIN dishes never appear on restaurant menus for one reason or another and in nearly a quarter of a century of dining out professionally there are growing numbers of lost tastes that I hunger for. Some are dishes that are no longer in vogue - remember 'poulet Vallée d'Auge' (with apples, cream and Calvados)?, others have too limited appeal or too short a season, or maybe the kitchen just can't be bothered.
In the weeks prior to Christmas chestnuts make an appearance and to me they are one of the treats of this time of year. My favourite cooking method is to make a small incision in each then simmer them with a bay leaf in water for 15/20 minutes.
In the first of the following you may also cheat by using tinned puréed chestnuts. Either way you end up with a rich, festive soup, and one which is a regular feature of my New Year's Day dinners
1 medium sized carrot, sliced
1 medium sized onion, sliced
1 finely chopped rasher of bacon (optional)
1 tin chestnut purée or 500g unpeeled fresh chestnuts
0.5l chicken stock
0.25l single cream
1 sprig each parsley, thyme and a bay leaf
salt & pepper
1 dessert apple peeled, cored and thinly sliced
1 tbs brown sugar
Roast or boil the fresh chestnuts and peel (or just flick open the tin)
Fry the bacon in the butter and when coloured add the vegetables and chestnuts stirring to soften onions and carrots. (Add puréed chestnuts only after the vegetables have cooked a while).
Add the stock and herbs and simmer gently for 25/35 minutes till chestnuts are tender.
Use a hand blender to liquidise the soup or pass through a sieve. Adjust seasoning and add cream.
While the chestnuts are cooking warm the remaining butter in a small frying pan, add the sugar and when dissolved, the apple slices. Cook these till nicely caramelised. Lay a few apple slices atop each serving.
© recipe copyright 2001 Mario Wyn-Jones