Slightly sweet and nutty, this French Chestnut Stuffing recipe is perfect for any holiday table.
Roasted chestnuts for the holidays
Like many places around the world, it is common to see Paris street vendors selling warm, roasted chestnuts throughout the holiday season. The smell of roasted chestnuts is a sweet and nutty smell that will attract your attention from blocks away. And, as soon as you’ve had your first taste, that smell becomes a very hard one to resist.
Maybe it has something to do with the popular Christmas carol, but everyone, even those who have never had the pleasure of eating chestnuts warm from the fire, seems to associate chestnuts with the holidays. While these soft and sweet nuts are fun to eat alone, they are also a wonderful addition to holiday dishes.
The history of eating chestnuts
Chestnuts have been a major part of the food culture in southern Europe and the whole Mediterranean region for ages. In France, the can be traced back to the writings of King Lous XIV’s chef in the later 1600’s. They are so well-loved, that every fall in Lyon there is a Chestnut Festival (La Vogue des Marrons) where people come together for carnival rides and other fair festivities amidst the smell of roasting chestnuts. What a perfect way to welcome in the season!
Our French Chestnut stuffing recipe
In France, chestnut stuffing is a traditional side dish to serve with the holiday bird. This stuffing can be baked on its own or stuffed inside of the bird. It can also be made up to a day ahead of time, giving you less to worry about the day of your dinner.
If you are stuffing your holiday bird with the Chestnut Stuffing, make sure you stuff the bird just before placing it into the oven.
The chestnuts bring a toasty nuttiness to this stuffing that is both sweet and savory from the combination of apples and herbs. We loved the way the sweet, herby, and nutty flavors played together, creating an incredibly memorable dish.
Yield: 1 (8x8) baking dish (Double the recipe to fill a 9x13 baking dish.)
- 1 Tbsp salted butter
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 sweet apple (Gala or Honeycrisp) cored and diced
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- 2 Tbsp fresh sage, chopped, or 1 tsp dry, ground
- 2 Tbsp fresh thyme, chopped, or 2 tsp dry
- 1/8 tsp nutmeg
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp ground black pepper
- 1 lb fresh chestnuts, roasted, shelled, and crumbled
- 4 c baguette or French bread pieces
- 1 ½ c chicken or vegetable broth
Preheat your oven to 350F.
In a large sauté pan, heat the butter over medium high heat. Add the onions and celery and sauté until the vegetable start to soften, 3-5 min. Add the diced apple, sage, thyme, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Reduce the heat to medium low and continue to heat until the apples soften, 5-7 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat and add the crumbled chestnuts and the torn bread. Mix to combine. Add the broth and mix until the stuffing is moistened.* (The stuffing can be made up to this point in advance and stored in the refrigerator until ready to bake. If refrigerating the stuffing, remove it from the refrigerator 1 hour before you are ready to bake it to let it come to room temperature.)
Place the stuffing into a buttered 8x8 baking dish. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake it at 350F for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to bake the stuffing for 10 minutes or until the top is golden.
*If you will be using the stuffing inside of the turkey, rather than baking it separate, reduce the broth to 1 cup. Keep the stuffing separate from the turkey until just before you are ready to roast it.