With roasted chestnuts, green beans, shallots & home-made gravy
Update: As it’s over a year later I’ve altered this recipe slightly to include green beans to make this even healthier. And, pleased to say, have uploaded new photos, too. This is perfect as a side dish, yet this will probably be my main course as I have to buy meat on Christmas Eve this year – if there’s anything left in both of my local supermarkets within walking distance! Doubt there will be much. However, with this as my main course I certainly won’t be grumbling as it’s teeming with flavour and nutrition. To top that this is vegan and vegetarian suitable as long as an alternative to actual streaky bacon is used.
The following text is from first time around: Since posting this I’ve written on how to roast sweet chestnuts – click on A-Z recipes above and find the link there. Or: Click!
Roasted chestnuts are delicious at this time of year. And perfect with this side dish. One of the last times I had them was in New York, near Central Park. I just couldn’t resist the smell of them roasting over barrels they use there. A small bag was $5, but worth every cent – partly as it was so cold at night that anything to keep my hands warm was a must.
In the photo below the next one I’ve also included boiled new potatoes, pan-fried parsnips and traditionally made pork and leek sausages. With the latter I’d already cooked them, so all I did was to split them in half and reheat them in a pan with a little oil. For this dish, though, bacon is even more wonderful.
The shallots that I’ve used are a French banana type, possibly Longor. At this time of year any type of shallot would be fine. As this is loosely based on the recipe Pois (Peas) à La Française the shallots would be chopped. In the photo below I’ve sliced them in half and cooked them separately in a little oil as I like the look of them on the plate. Oh, and there’s also a large spoonful of cranberry sauce – love the stuff!
- oil, rapeseed or olive
- 2 x rashers streaky bacon per person
- 200g (7.05 oz) Brussels sprouts, trimmed, root end sliced off, small kept whole, medium sliced in half
- 150g (5.29 oz) shallots, trimmed at both ends and peeled (I use 150g per portion as I just love these pan-fried in bacon fat!)
- 10 x green beans per person, trimmed and cut into pieces
- 200g (7.05 oz) carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 x celery stalks, washed, trimmed and roughly chopped
- 1 x medium onion, peeled and quartered
- 1 x organic very low salt vegetable stock cube
- 500ml (1.05 pt US Liq) water
- 4 – 5 x sprigs fresh thyme or 1 x level tsp dried thyme
- 1 x dried bay leaf
- ¹/3 x tsp cayenne pepper or 1 x level tsp red pepper flakes
- 2 – 3 x garlic cloves, peeled and trimmed
- oil (about 1 dst or enough to coat the base of a small saucepan, either rapeseed or olive
- 1 x dst plain (all purpose) flour
- 3 – 6 whole roasted sweet chestnuts per person, a large X cut into their flat side with a pointed, sharp knife. Chestnuts can potentially explode from internal pressure, during cooking, if not pierced
- 1 – 2 x sausages per person, pan-fried – optional
- cranberry sauce – optional
Measurements within brackets above are approximate only.
- If using bacon; add a little oil to a wide pan and pan-fry over moderate heat, electric No 2 (out of 6), until nicely golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Drain on kitchen paper.
- Prep the stock, adding the carrots, celery, onion, garlic cloves, bay leaves, sprigs of fresh thyme, vegetable stock cube, cayenne pepper and the water to a large saucepan and bring to a boil on heat No 4, with a lid. Lower heat to No 2 or 1 and simmer for 30 minutes. Strain into a suitable bowl and return the stock to the saucepan. Keep on low heat.
- Add the oil and flour to a small heavy-based saucepan and, over low heat only, allow the flour to *cook out*. Stir often to make sure there are no lumps. Any signs of bubbling then take off heat and allow to cool. Put back on heat for a second time. Any sign of the flour turning brown and you’ll have to start this process again. When this is ready add to the stock (it’s best not to add all of the flour mixture at this stage), and bring it back to simmering point to help thicken the gravy, stirring often to prevent lumps. If gravy is too thin then add the remaining flour mixture and repeat the process of bringing to near simmering point, stirring constantly.
- Add the Brussels sprouts to a heavy-based pan on electric heat No 2 with a drizzle of oil. Cover with a lid and allow to cook for about 15 minutes, stirring through the occasional time. When they’re partially cooked remove from pan and set aside.
- Prep the shallots and add those to the pan the bacon has been in. Allow to settle on same heat, turning them over after about 20 minutes. Allow enough time to get them nicely golden on all sides.
- If using chestnuts, place on a baking tray in a preheated oven at 200°C, 400°F, Gas 6 for 15 to 20 minutes. Peel when cool enough to handle. Slice each one in half and reheat in a pan with a little oil until hot. Be careful with them at this point as they can get crunchy.
- I do this recipe in stages as then I’m using fewer pans. I do use a heavy-based saucepan (if using a thin-based pan cook on low heat only) on electric heat No 2 (out of 6) with a little rapeseed oil. When it’s hot enough add the bacon, if using. Flip them over the occasional time until nice and golden. Remove the bacon and set aside.
- Prep the Brussels sprouts and add them to a heavy-based pan with a little oil and a lid. Put on heat No 2 and partially cook them for around 15 minutes. Remove and set aside.
- As you’re cooking the bacon, sprouts and shallots prep the stock. Pour the water into a large saucepan and add the carrots, onion, celery, vegetable stock cube, garlic cloves, bay leaf, fresh thyme and cayenne pepper. Without using a lid bring to a boil at heat No 4, then simmer on heat No 2 for 30 minutes. After that time strain the stock through a metal colander into a suitable bowl. Retain the bay leaf and garlic cloves. Simply pour the strained stock back into the same saucepan, mash the garlic and add this with the bay leaf. Keep on low heat.
- Meanwhile, prep the shallots and add them to the pan used for the bacon. Allow to settle for about 15 minutes, then turn them over and cook for a further 15 minutes or so to get them nicely golden. Take off heat.
- If using green beans then I do recommend that those are blanched the same day of purchase to prevent mould from developing. To blanch them simply put a large saucepan on Heat No 4 and add lots of lightly salted cold water, bring to a boil, carefully add the whole green beans, put on a lid, bring back to a boil and only keep them in for a further minute. Drain into a suitable colander, fill the saucepan back up with lots of cold water, plunge the green beans in until they are cold. Keep running the cold water until they are absolutely cold. That way they will keep for far longer.
- If the above instruction is followed then the green beans are effectively partially cooked. I simply top them, slice them into pieces and add them to the sprouts or to the gravy itself to cook them completely.
- Put a small heavy-based saucepan on low heat only. Add the oil and flour and stir through to prevent lumps from forming. Once the mixture starts bubbling then take off heat and allow to cool. The flour must not burn or turn brown! Otherwise, you’ll have to start again. Put back on heat and repeat the process until the flour is cooked out. When ready add most of the mixture to the stock and, on heat No 4, bring up to boiling point, stirring constantly. If the gravy is too thin then add the remaining flour mixture and repeat the process.
- Instead of adding the partially cooked sprouts to the stock I continue to pan-fry the sprouts until fully cooked, and until they take on a golden glaze. If you add them to the stock they will lose their colour. Up the heat a little and sauté by continuously shaking the pan to prevent them from burning. If using bacon I would add this to the sprouts, after they are cooked, to reheat. To serve I do add a ladle of stock to this pan, swirl a little to grab all of its sticky sediment and then plate the contents.
- If you’re going to have boiled potatoes then I would put those on heat. Same, too, with the parsnips as they take about 20 minutes to pan-fry on fairly low heat. Otherwise, if you’re roasting the chestnuts then you could parboil the parsnips and roast them with the chestnuts. To parboil: put parsnips in a saucepan with enough water to cover, bring to a boil, then a brisk simmer for 5 minutes. Drain, and when cool enough add a little oil to coat them, place on a baking tray and place them in the oven. If the chestnuts are roasted before the parsnips are ready, remove them and continue to cook the parsnips until nicely golden.
- If using chestnuts then pierce them with a sharp knife. If you don’t do this they can explode during cooking. Place on a baking tray in a 200°C, 400°F or Gas 6 preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes. Peel when cool enough to handle. Slice each one in half and reheat in a pan with a little oil until just beginning to take on a little colour. Remove with a slotted spoon and add to the gravy with the vegetables.
If anyone needs instructions to fry sausages then check out my other post here. To serve the above I place the ingredients on a warm dinner plate and simply spoon over the gravy. Oh, and a large portion of cranberry sauce please :)
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