Tori Avey, award-winning food writer, recipe developer, and creator of the popular food blog The Shiksa in the Kitchen and The History Kitchen explores the story behind the food - why we eat what we eat, how the foods of different cultures have evolved, and how yesterday's food can inspire us in the kitchen today. She talks about Hanukkah Thanksgiving and how to combine the holidays.
Challah Chestnut Stuffing
Servings: 10-12 servings
Total Time: 1 Hour 30 Minutes
1 cup pre-shelled roasted chestnuts or 3/4 lb. chestnuts in shell
1/4 cup schmaltz or margarine, divided (if you're not keeping kosher, feel free to use butter)
1/2 lb. (8 oz.) sliced white mushrooms
1 onion, minced
2 cups celery, diced including leaves
1 cup carrots, diced small
1/2 cup curly leaf parsley, minced
2 tbsp fresh sage, minced
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves, minced
1 tsp fresh marjoram, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 qt. (4 cups) chicken or vegetable broth
1 medium loaf of dairy-free challah bread, cubed (about 10 cups of cubes)
4 eggs, beaten
If you are using pre-peeled chestnuts, chop them into bits and reserve them in a bowl for later use. If you are using chestnuts in the shell, you will need to roast and peel them before chopping-- in my experience this takes about 45 minutes of prep time.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a skillet, melt 2 tbsp schmaltz or margarine over medium high heat, tilting to coat the bottom of the pan. Spread the mushrooms in a single layer at the bottom of the skillet. Sprinkle them with salt and pepper and turn the heat to high. Let the mushrooms sear without stirring. After 2 minutes, stir the mushrooms continuously for another 2-3 minutes until they are seared golden brown and shrink to half their size. Reserve the mushrooms in a bowl, return skillet to the stove. Turn flame to medium high and melt 2 more tbsp of schmaltz or margarine in the skillet. Saute the onion till it softens, then add the celery, carrots, minced garlic cloves and chopped chestnuts. Saute mixture for 5 minutes until veggies begin to brown and caramelize. Stir in the seared mushrooms, parsley, and herbs. Pour in 3 cups of the chicken or veggie broth (reserve the last cup), bring to a boil. Reduce heat and allow mixture to simmer for 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste (I like lots of black pepper!). Remove from heat and let the mixture cool for a few minutes.
Meanwhile, spread challah bread cubes in a single layer across two cookie sheets and place them in the oven. Let them lightly toast for 5-6 minutes until the edges start to turn golden. You want to dry out the cubes just slightly; they should still retain some of their sponginess. Place challah bread crumbs in a very large mixing bowl. In a small bowl, beat the eggs. Pour the eggs over the breadcrumbs, stir with a large wooden spoon or spatula. Add the broth mixture and continue to stir till the vegetables and liquid are fully incorporated into the breadcrumbs.
You can use this stuffing to stuff a 10-16 lb. bird, or you can bake the stuffing separately. If stuffing the bird, make sure you follow the appropriate food safety guidelines. To bake the stuffing outside the bird, spread the stuffing in an even layer in a 9x13 baking dish and place uncovered in the oven. Let it cook for 30-45 minutes. Check once halfway through cooking; if the stuffing seems too dry, pour more chicken broth evenly across the top. Let it continue to bake till the top turns golden brown.
Serve hot. To keep this dish vegetarian, use vegetable broth and butter or margarine.