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This recipe is another from my favourite vegetarian cookbook from Canadian Living. I altered it only slightly, adding more garlic, and using more veg broth instead of water.

Stews are great for this time of year, and are perfect for my household because I can easily split the ingredients into two pots and add stewing beef for my meat eating husband (or, my ass-band as I like to refer to him. He has It’s all gone Pete Tong to thank for that lovely nickname).

Before making this recipe, I had never had chestnuts before. I was raised in small town Saskatchewan ok? I can’t be blamed. Chestnuts, in my opinion, are for big-city people who fancy themselves European for a night after skating and drinking hot toddies. Frankly, I thought they only existed in Christmas carols.

I had no idea that they were so creamy, and that they made such a perfect accompaniment to hearty soul warming stew. I also had no idea how much work they were to cook and peel.  Quote of the day from Dan (who didn’t want to help me peel the chestnuts anymore): “You know, chestnuts really don’t want to be eaten.  We should respect that.”

Having never cooked chestnuts before, I took the recipe’s advice and boiled them. We used the ‘x’ method, and had to perform an emergency mini-surgery when Dan got shell jammed deep under his thumb nail. If you are choosing the x method, make sure you actually pierce all the way through the shell.  See here for a potentially much more easy way to roast and peel chestnuts. Next time, I will buy already peeled chestnuts definitely use Martha’s method.

Ingredients

  • 2 heads garlic (or only 1 if you are garlic adverse)
  • olive oil
  • 1 pkg (10 oz/284 g) pearl onions, peeled
  • 1-1/2 lb (680 g) Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • fresh parsley sprigs
  • fresh thyme sprigs
  • bay leaves
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) salt
  • 1/4 tsp (1 mL) pepper
  • 1 pinch American saffron (cuz who can afford the real stuff)
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups (500 mL) vegetable broth (preferably homemade)
  • 1/2 head cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 2 cups (500 mL) cooked chestnuts
  • 1 small butternut squash, peeled and cut into chunks

Preparation

Trim top off garlic heads to expose cloves. Place both heads on a square of foil and drizzle with about 1 tsp of oil each; seal the foil-package. Bake in a 375°F oven until tender, about 35 minutes. Let cool enough to handle; squeeze out cloves into bowl. Set aside.

While the garlic was cooking, I cooked and peeled the chestnuts. It is definitely easiest to peel the nuts when they are still hot.

In large pot (or dutch oven if you are a fancy pants), heat a bit of oil over medium heat; cook onions, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 6 minutes.

Stir in potatoes, parsley and thyme sprigs, bay leaves, salt, pepper, American saffron and roasted garlic. Cook these ingredients together, stirring often, for 2 minutes.

Stir in flour; cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Gradually stir in broth, scraping up browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Stir in 2 cups water and bring to boil; reduce heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.

Stir in cauliflower, chestnuts and squash; simmer for 20 minutes, or until squash is tender.

Discard parsley, thyme (I chopped mine up because I am a moron, and didn’t read the recipe in advance) and bay leaves and let the stew sit for 10 minutes before enjoying.

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