Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Chestnut Risotto

Simplicity of effect often takes considerable complication of means.

A chestnut risotto is basically starch over starch. Admittedly chestnust does have protein content but the mouth-feel is that of a chewy starchy product.

In order to not bore the palate with a monotonous texture, you must break it up.

The recipe consists of three parts — preparing the chestnuts, preparing a chestnut broth and making the actual risotto.

The complications make for a dish that is both rich in taste and texture.


2 lbs raw chestnuts

1/2 cup shallots (finely chopped)
1 cup carnaroli rice
3 cups broth (use dashi otherwise)

1 cup grated parmigiano-reggiano

olive oil
4 tbsp rosemary (finely chopped)

sea salt
black pepper


Please note the simplicity of the ingredients. The complexity comes in how they are manipulated.

Score the chestnuts with a knife with an X mark. Roast in an oven heated to 350°F for about 15 minutes.

While they are still warm, you must peel them. It's hard sweaty work and they don't peel as well when they cool down so your fingers are likely to feel the burn.

Inevitably, some of them will  be moldy. You must discard these.

Separate the chestnuts into whole ones and partial ones. Cut the whole ones into quarters and set aside.

Blend the partially broken ones with the broth. You may need to add some whole ones if there are not enough partial ones. Don't worry about blending them fine. Strain the broth from the now broken pieces.

These broken pieces act as the uneven textural interest. Put them away to let dry for a bit. (They need to be dry since they will get pan-fried later.)

Now, we prepare a standard risotto. Keep the chestnut broth just under boiling on a separate heater.

Fry the shallots in the olive oil. When limp (about 8 minutes), add the rice and let it fry for a bit. When the rice is translucent and coated with oil, you will be able to see the white rice kernels. Add he broken chestnut pieces and sautée for a bit (about 3-4 minutes.)

Add the whole chestnut pieces and the rosemary.

Now make the risotto. Alternately add the warm chestnut broth, and keep stirring till all the broth is used up and you get a creamy textured wet risotto.

Add the parmigiano-reggiano and serve at once with tons of black pepper.

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