Midday Fix: Cucina Paradiso’s recipes for holiday chestnut dishes

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Cucina Paradiso
814 North Boulevard
Oak Park
(708) 848-3434
www.cucinaoakpark.com
Chestnut and Butternut Squash Risotto

6 cups vegetable  broth
1/4 cup cream Sherry
1 Tablespoon olive oil
3 Tablespoons butter, divided
1small white onion, finely chopped
1/2 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1 1/2cups (10 ounces) arborio rice
2 cups peeled roasted chestnuts or jarred chestnuts, chopped
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon chopped fresh marjoram
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley

Chestnut Preparation:
To prepare the fresh chestnuts, start with heavy, glossy nuts with firm, smooth shells. Cut a small cross on one side of each shell to let steam escape as the nuts roast and to make them easier to peel afterward. Place chestnuts in a shallow roasting pan; sprinkle with water. Roast in 400F oven for 25 to 20 minutes. Wrap the hot chestnuts in towel and squeeze to crush the shells. Keep nuts wrapped for 5 minutes before removing the hard outer shell and the brown skin inside, being wary of burning your fingers. One pound of fresh chestnuts equals about two cups when shelled.

Directions:
Bring vegetable broth and sherry to boil in medium saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to low; cover and keep warm. Meanwhile, heat the oil and 2 tablespoons of butter in a heavy, large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and squash; cook until onion is translucent, stirring often, about 10 minutes. Add rice; stir until rice is translucent at edges but still opaque in center, about 3 minutes. Add 1 cup warm broth; simmer until almost absorbed, stirring often, about 4 minutes. Add more broth, 1 cup at a time, allowing each addition to be absorbed before adding next until rice is just tender, stirring frequently, about 25 minutes total. Stir in chestnuts, thyme, and marjoram. Remove from heat; stir in remaining 1 tablespoon butter, cheese, and parsley. Season risotto with salt and pepper and serve.
Roasted Chestnuts in Foil

Ingredients
2 pounds fresh unshelled chestnuts
2-3 sprigs rosemary (or herb of choice – oregano, basil, tarragon or thyme)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
2 teaspoons (to taste) coarse salt
freshly grated nutmeg (to taste)
freshly ground black pepper (to taste)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 425. Place large sheet of foil on a rimmed baking sheet. Place chestnuts, flat side down, on a work surface. Using a utility knife or a sharp paring knife, carefully cut through the shell on the rounded side of each chestnut to score an X. Soak in a bowl of hot water for 1 minute. Drain chestnuts and pat dry; place in a medium bowl. Add rosemary (or herb of choice), butter, salt and nutmeg. Season with pepper and toss to thoroughly coat. Arrange chestnuts in a single layer in center of foil and gather up edges of foil around chestnuts, leaving a large opening on top. Roast until the peel begins to curl up and chestnuts are cooked through, 30-45 minutes, depending on size of nuts. Transfer chestnuts to a serving platter, scrape in any butter and spices with them, and toss to coat. Season with more salt to taste. Serve hot or warm.

Apple Fennel and Chestnut Salad

Ingredients
6 cups (packed) arugula

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