Chestnut Stuffing


Makes 12 servings

Chestnut Stuffing
  • 1½ lb fresh chestnuts
  • 1 lb loaf bread, cut into ½ inch cubes (see suggestions)
  • ¾ cup unsalted butter
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons oil
  • 1 Tablespoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1½ teaspoon dried tarragon
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 1 lb sliced mushrooms
  • 1 tart apple
  • ½ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • about ¾ cup low sodium chicken broth

Special equipment

large cast iron frying pan (see notes)
baking pan(s) large enough to accomodate 1 lb of bread cubes (16"x23" approx)
large (8 qt or larger) casserole or steamer pan


Preheat the oven to 350°. Roast the chestnuts in a dry cast iron pan large enough that they can fit in one layer over medium heat, shaking occasionally. When they get hot enough, the shells will split — not as dramatically as popcorn, though you may have a suicidal chestnut or two leap out of the pan. Remove and let set until they’re cool enough to handle.

While they’re cooling, melt ½ cup butter in the microwave, and slowly pour over your bread cubes in a large mixing bowl, stirring constantly to coat as many pieces as possible. Spread out on the baking pan, flipping occasionally, until golden.

With a paring knife, crack open each chestnut at its split and remove the hard shell and as much of the inner skin as possible. No need to be a perfectionist here; having a few bits of the inner skin will add flavour, much like the red skin on peanuts. Depending on the size of your chestnuts, cut into sixths. You don’t want them twice the size of your bread cubes. Reserve.

Your bread cubes are probably still roasting. Sauté the onions, garlic, celery, salt, pepper, and tarragon in 2 Tablespoons of butter and 1 teaspoon of oil over medium heat for about 8 minutes or until the celery has begun to soften. Deglaze with wine and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated. Mix with the bread cubes in the same mixing bowl you used to butter the bread cubes.

In the same frying pan, Sauté the mushrooms in the rest of the butter and oil (2 Tablepoons of butter and 1 teaspoon of oil) over medium high heat until most, but not all, of the liquid has cooked away. Mix with bread cubes.

Time to finalize the assembly. Dice the apple into small cubes. Add to bread mixture. Mix in chestnuts and parsley. Slowly stir in enough chicken broth until moist but not soggy.

Remove to lightly greased large casserole and bake 30 minutes covered and another 15 minutes uncovered until crisp.


There are different methods for shelling and peeling chestnuts. Most involve cutting an X into the flat side of the nut then boiling or roasting. None of that is needed. If you dry-roast them in a frying pan, not only will most burst open on their own, you#&8217;ll get that roasted flavour and the inside skin will be easier to peel than if you had boiled or poached them.


Make this recipe your own by varying the bread. While it works fine with sandwich bread, you could use rustic wholewheat loaves, ciabatta rolls, maybe even cornbread.