The pandemic Thanksgiving needs to be special; hence the miniature cruciferous veggie gets an Ottolenghi treatment. The sweetness of lightly cooked grapes pop in your mouth and is very refreshing. And, chestnuts never disappoint! This is a multi-thread recipe and takes some prepping and planning with a multitude of ingredients, but ends up stealing the show. Enjoy.
- Thread 1: 4 cups Brussel sprouts (trimmed & halved) + salt + EVOO
- Thread 2: 7 tbsp oil + 5 peeled garlic pod, whole + 5 medium shallots peeled and halved
+ 1 tbsp maple syrup + 6 tbsp rice wine (Shaoxing) + 5 bay leaves
+ 2 cups cooked chestnuts + 2 cups seedless grapes
- Thread 3 (topping) : 2 jalapeno peppers, finely sliced + 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar + 1 tsp sugar + 1/2 tsp salt.
- Garnish: parsley leaves
The three threads can be done in parallel. Thread 1: Roast the Brussel sprouts at 450 F for 20 mins or until cooked. Thread 2: Mix all the ingredients, except grapes, in a thick bottomed pot. Cover and cook on very low heat for 20 mins. Then mix in the grapes and cook for another 5 mins and turn off the heat. Thread 3: Mix all ingredients and let pickle for the duration of the roasting of Thread 1.
Mix all the results of Thread 1 and 2 and let the flavors develop for 30 minutes or more. Serve at room temperature topped with Thread 3 and garnish.
Notes, hints, tips:
- Ottolenghi’s recipes are elaborate but always turn out fantastic! I am a big fan. I adapted his recipe here splitting it into thread 1 and 2 and doing them in parallel.
- You can add Rice wine (1-2 tbsp) and soy sauce (1-2 tbsp) to the final mix.
- Chestnut is versatile. In Clermont-Ferrand (France) I was introduced to chestnut ice cream. The stores even sell chestnut cream in a tube (ala Italian tomato paste). But here it gets a savory application.
There are many ways to prepare fresh chestnuts, but store bought prepared chestnuts work equally well in recipes.
- Prepping: In every method, slit each chestnut on the flat side, with the tip of a sharf knife.
- Boiling: Slit and soak the chestnuts overnight in plenty of water. Next day, simmer in plenty of water for 30-40 mins until cooked through. Drain and cool.
- Steam-Toasting: I discovered this method that toasts the shells to give the heady aroma, redolent of the Holidays, while the steam softens the shells.
- Slit and soak the chestnuts overnight in plenty of water, to get a head start on the shell softening. But if you are in a rush, a few hours to none is OK– you may just need more iterations in Step 3 below.
- Heat a heavy bottomed iron skillet on medium-high. Add the nuts to the hot pan with 2 oz water.
- Every 10 mins, remove cover and splash 2 oz water and cover immediately. It sizzles and steams up. Iterate this 3-4 times (30-40 mins) until done. Use your timer in 10-min repeat mode for convenience.
- Shelling: Press the nut vertically, between your thumb and forefinger until the shell cracks and gently retrieve the whole flesh.