How to Make Chestnut Gravy


Meaty and mild, chestnuts offer a lot more than toasted crunch when you forgo the fire and braise them. Braising produces a stock that makes a natural base for chestnut gravy and infuses the chestnuts with the flavor of the braising liquid. Combining basic braising and gravy-making techniques creates a sauce you can match to just about any poultry and one that works exceptionally well with turkey. Dried chestnuts absorb more flavor during braising than fresh and work better in gravy.

Things You'll Need

  • Olive oil or butter
  • Aromatic ingredients, such as leeks, carrots and celery
  • Herbs, such as thyme and bay leaf
  • Spices, such as cloves and allspice
  • Dry white wine
  • Chicken stock
  • Flour
  • Cream
  • Soak the chestnuts overnight in cold water. Rinse the chestnuts in a colander and drain. Peel away any loose skins and toss any that have blemishes and holes.

  • Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil or butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Add the aromatic ingredients for the gravy. Start with basic mirepoix -- 2 parts chopped onions or leeks and 1 part each celery and carrots -- and add a shallot and clove of garlic if desired.

  • Add a few sprigs of fresh herbs. Chestnuts do well with floral herbs, such as rosemary, sage and thyme.

  • Add the chestnuts to the pan. Saute the chestnuts and aromatics until browned and highly aromatic, about 7 minutes. Stir the chestnuts frequently.

  • Deglaze the saucepan with dry white wine. Scrape the bottom of the pan to lift all the concentrated bits.

  • Pour enough warm chicken or turkey broth in the dish to cover the chestnuts by 2 to 3 inches. Add aromatic spices, such as bay leaves, allspice berries, a few cloves and black peppercorns.

  • Season the broth to taste with kosher salt. Adjust the heat so the broth barely simmers.

  • Simmer the chestnuts until slightly tender and puree them using an immersion blender. As an alternative to an immersion blender, cook the chestnuts for 1 1/2 hours take the pan off the stove; roughly mash the chestnuts using a fork or potato masher.

  • Add dried fruit to sauce. Chestnuts and dried fruit, such as currants, peaches or raisins, pair together too well to pass up on matching them in a gravy.

  • Mix 1 tablespoon of cold butter with 1 tablespoon of flour into a ball for every cup of gravy in the saucepan. Pinch off pieces of the butter and flour and whisk it into the simmering sauce until smooth.

  • Simmer the gravy for another 10 to 12 minutes and season it to taste. Lift out the bay leaves and whole herb sprigs. Stir in just enough heavy cream to lighten the sauce and give it a smooth, rich luster.

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