What a gorgeous time of year it is in our Dandenong Ranges! We owe a debt
of gratitude to those earlier settlers who planted the deciduous trees which
now offer the glory we enjoy every Autumn.
They provide not just beauty, but food as well, as the many wayside chestnut stalls remind us. Our Annual Chestnut Festival that was held in Kalorama Memorial Park on the 1st May this year always provides an opportunity to taste, buy and find ideas for using them in many dishes. I worked as Food Consultant for the Chestnut Growers for a number of years and was amazed to learn how versatile they are as an ingredient. (They also freeze well in the shell!)
I love risotto and this recipe takes advantage of chestnuts and the
mushrooms that are so readily available now.
RISOTTO WITH MUSHROOMS & ROASTED CHESTNUTS ( 3 - 4 serves)
3 TB light olive oil or butter
1 large white onion, finely chopped
250 gr. mushrooms, sliced (I use a mixture of Swiss Browns and exotic
275 gr. Arborio rice
600ml boiling chicken or vegetable stock (or a little more)
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 bay leaf, torn
Pepper & salt to taste
5 TB chopped peeled and roasted chestnuts
2 TB finely chopped Italian parsley
1 tablespoon olive oil
Shaved or grated Parmesan cheese
Heat oil or butter, saute onions and mushrooms until soft and golden.
Add rice, stir gently until grains are opaque.
Pour in the hot stock in small quantities, adding more as it is absorbed,
and stirring often. Add herbs, pepper and salt to taste. Bring to the
boil, then reduce heat. Cover saucepan and cook for about 20 minutes,
stirring only occasionally to ensure it is not sticking to the base of the
saucepan. ( Add a little more stock or water, if necessary).
Stir in the chopped roasted chestnuts, parsley and 1 tablespoon of oil.
Serve on warmed plates, topped with grated or shaved Parmesan cheese.
NOTE: This is quite a versatile recipe. To add a little more colour, I
sometimes dice and saute half a red capsicum with the other vegetables. A
little dry white wine can be added to the liquid for flavour and diced
roast or BBQ chicken or diced ham can be added towards the end of cooking
time. If chestnuts are not in season, some browned pine nuts may be
Ann Creber (The Good Life on 3MDR 97.1 FM, streaming on www.3mdr.com - Live
to air Monday 3.00-5.00 P.M.)