Tag Archives: Chestnut Pancakes
Post by Alison Hein.
When new inspiration is needed in the fashion world, designers look to the past. Suddenly, “retro” means “in style,” hemlines swing dramatically up or down, and department stores are filled to the brim with tie-dyed or shoulder-padded outfits.
So, I thought, in our new gluten-free, paleo world, why not apply this concept to food? You may recall I very recently shared a recipe for Chestnut Pancakes, a gluten-free, earthy delight. Since that time, I have been doing a lot of research. You may not know that this country was once filled with mighty Chestnut trees, tall giants reaching as high as 150 feet, and as broad as 14 feet in diameter. Sadly, blight destroyed 3.5 billion American Chestnut trees during the first 40 years of the 20th century.
A lot of information, I know, but here’s where I get back to food – many older American pre-blight cookbooks contain recipes for chestnut dishes. I turned to one of my favorite old cookbooks by Sarah Tyson Rorer, published in 1912. Sure enough, I found (old) new inspiration and adapted this Chestnut Poached Eggs recipe from her original.
Roast chestnuts and purée them yourself, or take the easy route, and purchase canned. The purée quickly cooks to the consistency of hot cereal, like cream of wheat or rice. Topped with a steamy poached egg, a scant portion of rich, nutty chestnuts is surprisingly filling.
So why not give something “new” a try, for a retro, yet in-style breakfast in bed?
NOTE: Good news! Several foundations are working hard to develop blight-resistant varieties, and to restore the American Chestnut to its natural habitat in our Eastern forests. Many chestnut growers are popping up on the West coast as well. If you would like to read more about chestnuts, take a look at my chestnut article (http://mixerupper.com/2012/08/01/chestnuts/ ) .
1 ½ teaspoons butter
½ cup chestnut purée
¼ cup milk
¼ teaspoon salt
Dash of white pepper
Salt and pepper, to taste
½ teaspoon dried parsley, finely crushed
Melt butter in a small, heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add chestnut purée, milk, salt and pepper. Stir until smooth, and heat until warmed through. Mixture will be the consistency of hot cereal such as cream of wheat or rice. Reduce heat to low, cover and keep warm while poaching eggs.
Eggs should be as fresh as possible for perfect poaching. To poach eggs, fill a heavy saucepan with enough water to cover eggs (3 to 4 inches) and heat until very hot and simmering, but not boiling. Break eggs into individual small dishes. Or you can use an egg poacher. Carefully pour the first egg into the simmering water. Immediately use a wooden spoon to wrap the cooking white around the egg yolk to prevent the white from feathering. Repeat the process with the second egg, and cook for about four minutes, until the white is firm but the yolk is still soft. Remove from pan with a slotted spoon and drain. Trim edges if necessary.
Spoon chestnut mixture evenly onto two small dishes. Top with poached eggs, dust with salt and pepper and sprinkle with parsley. Serve immediately.
Makes 2 servings.
Post by Alison Hein.
Every autumn, I scour the streets of New York, searching for a cart rigged with an open fire, with the deep, earthy aroma of roasting chestnuts wafting toward me. Finding one, I pay, and receive a tiny brown paper bag stuffed with six steamy caramel-colored nuts. First the peeling, then the payoff – that very first bite of warm, buttery chestnut, sweetened by the chill in the November air.
It recently dawned on me that I don’t need to limit myself to this once-a-year cold weather ritual. Chestnuts have been popular in parts of Europe for centuries. In Italy, you can enjoy chestnut pasta, polenta and gnocchi, or even luscious chestnut fritters, served hot with ricotta cheese.
Chestnut flour (or nut meal) is becoming easier to find on U.S. grocery shelves, and provides a wonderful gluten-free option for those with wheat allergies. Pre-roasted nuts in jars are also useful in cooking, as is chestnut puree. If you cannot find these products locally, look online. U.S. growers are also on the rise and many sell their chestnut products direct to consumers.
These pancakes resonate with authentic, roasty chestnut flavor, and are sweetened with a thin, simple syrup made with honey and chopped, roasted chestnuts. Chestnut meal has a different consistency from wheat flour, so use a gentle hand until you become accustomed to the grainier texture.
No need to wait for fall for a sweet, earthy, chestnutty breakfast in bed.
1 cup chestnut flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 egg, separated
½ teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons butter, melted and slightly cooled
¼ cup sour cream
Additional butter for cooking
Combine chestnut flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in large bowl. In separate bowl, stir together milk, egg yolk and vanilla. Pour melted butter into liquid mixture and stir well. Using a wooden spoon or hand mixer, gradually add liquid mixture to dry ingredients until batter is smooth. Stir in sour cream. Beat egg white until stiff peaks form. Gently fold into batter.
Place pan or griddle on burner over medium to medium low heat. Melt a small amount of butter in the pan for the first pancake. Ladle batter by ¼ cupfuls into pan and cook until small bubbles appear throughout pancakes. Flip once with spatula and continue cooking until rich brown, one to two minutes, adding more butter and adjusting heat as necessary. Keep warm while making the remainder of pancakes. Serve hot with real maple syrup or sweet chestnut sauce.
Makes 8 to 9 4-inch diameter pancakes.
Sweet Chestnut Sauce
½ cup honey
1 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla
⅓ cup finely chopped roasted chestnuts (fresh or jarred)
Pour honey, water and vanilla and chopped chestnuts into a small heavy saucepan. Mix well. Place over medium-high to high heat and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce heat, and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes until sauce is slightly thickened, but still on the thin side. Set aside and allow to cool.
Makes about 1 cup of syrup.