Chestnut Stuffing Is an Old Family Recipe
This old family recipe is from my husband's mother, Nicole, who came to America as the French bride of an American soldier after World War II. Having grown up in France as the daughter of a rich doctor, she had never learned to cook. Not only that, but she didn't know anything about preparing a Thanksgiving dinner for her new American husband.
Luckily, Nicole's American neighbor wanted to help her out and taught her this mouthwatering old-fashioned stuffing. She prepared it for me on the first Thanksgiving I spent at her house. It has since become a favorite Thanksgiving dish in our family. I can't wait to eat it myself!
|Prep time||Cook time||Ready in||Yields|
1 hour 30 min
10 to 12 servings
- 1 pound chesnuts, shelled and chopped
- 1 pound sausage, cooked and crumbled
- 10 slices white or wheat bread, toasted and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 onion, chopped and sauteed
- 1 tablespoon herbs de Provence or Italian herb mix
- 1 to 2 cups turkey or chicken broth
Step-by-Step Photo Guide
- Prepare chestnuts by cutting through the skin in an X shape with scissors or a knife. Boil for 20-30 minutes or bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes.
- Let chestnuts cool and then peel off the shell and skin. Break or cut nutmeat into chunks. If you have problems peeling, then try baking or boiling a little longer.
- Prepare other ingredients: toast bread and cut it into 1-inch squares. Saute sausage and drain grease. Add the onion and saute until tender.
- Mix bread, sausage/onion mixture, chestnuts, and herbs de Provence in a baking pan. Pour over 1-2 cups of broth (more for a moister dressing, less for more crunchy stuffing). Note: You can also use this stuffing to stuff a turkey. The mixture should stuff a 20 lb. turkey.
- Bake in a 350-degree oven for 30-40 minutes or until heated through.
- Tips: You can prepare this stuffing ahead of time and keep it in the refrigerator for 1-2 days before baking. This stuffing also freezes extremely well. I've actually frozen leftovers from Christmas and served them at Easter.
Why Chestnut Stuffing?
The chestnuts give this dish a very unique taste. Chestnuts were once all over America but in 1904 a fungus disease wiped out the American trees. Now many of our chestnuts are imported, but some growers are starting to revive the cultivation of chestnuts in America by using a fungus-resistant Chinese chestnut.
I suppose that is why my only Christmas experience of seeing chestnuts roasting on an open fire came on an adoption trip in China when I saw a man on the street roasting chestnuts and handing them out in paper containers.
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Pecan Stuffing Option
I've also made this same recipe with pecans. You could probably substitute almonds or walnuts as well. The pecans had a very nice taste, but I still think that the chestnuts are better. Although it takes time to peel the chestnuts, I think it is worth it and my family won't let me miss making chestnut sausage stuffing every Thanksgiving. Moreover, this recipe freezes well, so we sometimes save some of it for Christmas. If you really want to avoid peeling the chestnuts, you can buy them canned.