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.