There’s a kind of nostalgia settling when comes autumn. The light gets subtler and days shorter.
I don’t have any childhood memories related to autumn since I grew up in a tropical island, where the only chestnuts came in a box usually around Christmas time: Les marrons glacés. There was also the chestnut cream. This tube filled of pure bliss…
It’s much later in Paris, that I had a taste of roasted chestnuts and ate my first dinde aux marrons -roasted turkey with chestnuts- prepared by my aunt.
Each year is the same.
First, the excitement at the sight of these plump, shiny, deep brown nuts. And the anticipation of their sweet taste.
Then, the procrastination, knowing how long it takes to peel them…
The second never stops the first though.
Better choose a rainy day, with no interesting book to read, plenty of time and a helping hand. The task is tedious, but it’s worth the effort.
For once, I went the savoury way with chestnuts. And I made a velouté. Fairly simple, served as a starter for dinner.
If you like butternut and sweet potato for their sweetness, there are chances you’ll like this chestnut velouté with a strong nutty taste. I suggest to serve it in small portions as it’s rather filling. Roasted bacon would make a nice addition too.
400g / 14oz whole chestnuts
1 onion, finely diced
25g / 1 1/2 tbsp butter
750ml / 3 cups vegetable stock
100g / 1/2 cup crème fraîche
Salt, pepper and nutmeg
In a deep saucepan over medium fire, melt butter and add onion. Stir constantly until soft. Add chestnuts, pour stock and season with salt. Bring the stock to a boil, then reduce fire and let it simmer for 25-30 minutes or until the chestnuts are soft. Using a blender mix the chestnuts and the stock into a thick and smooth velouté. Transfer into the sauce pan, add crème fraîche and stir over medium-low fire for a couple of minutes. Adjust seasoning to your liking. Serve with freshly grated nutmeg and cracked pepper.
All images © 2013 Viviane Perényi