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Friday, October 18, 2013

Patty Pan Stuffed with Chestnuts

2 magical ingredients dropped out of the sky and into my loving hands:
1 large patty pan squash from the MIL's garden
1 1/2 cups fresh chestnuts

hmm what can I possible do with these 2 perfectly in season works of art I have absolutely never cooked before?

Patty pan is so beautiful that I wanted it to keep it's scalloped shape, so stuffing it is a perfect idea.  If I had baby patty pans I would have made some thai curry with them.  Curry is seeping out of my skin right now...
So the first part of my strategy is good music.  I'm in a creative mood, so a good Beth Hart album is the perfect background to get me into a nice cooking state.   I'll probably end up replaying I'll take care of you over and over again for a long long time.
That put me into an "observe the beauty" state.  Patty pan is so beautiful, it would be a pity to chop it up into pieces.  Well, at least not the first night.
Oooh look at that sexy thang...
The second part of my strategy is research.. how in the hail do you cook chestnuts without an open fire?
Well, I don't know if what I did was the right thing (since I read you have to peel them first) but I steamed them whole in the pressure cooker for 7 minutes, then peeled them.
Have you ever tasted raw chestnut?  It's amazing.  It's what helped me decide to peel them after cooking.  I figured it would be much much easier.  I was right.
The third part is compatible flavoring.
Savory pumpkin-ish dishes are superb with wild mushrooms.. oh my and so are chestnuts!
I always have some dried cêpes on hand.. and those go well with red meat.
I don't have any lamb, but that would have been exquisite.. I used ground beef instead.
Now we're talking.
Here's how I get my endorphins to set the roof on fire...
Serves 4
1 large patty pan squash, top cut and flesh scraped out and chopped
1 1/2 cups fresh chestnuts, steamed, peeled, and chopped
300g ground beef
2 cloves garlic, grated
1 onion, chopped
1 large handful dried cêpes (or whatever)
4 cubes frozen spinach, thawed
drizzle truffle infused EVOO
plain EVOO
2 Tbsp heavy cream
handful parmesan
handful shredded swiss
1.  Give yourself some time, because scraping out the flesh takes a while, and peeling the chestnuts does too.  I suppose you can use canned ones.
2.  Preheat the oven to 200°C.
3.  Heat some plain EVOO in a wok and cook the beef with the garlic until browned.
4.  Scoop out the meat with a slotted spoon so the fat stays in the wok.  Throw the onions into that fat and cook until translucent.
5.  Place the empty patty pan in the oven and cook for 10 minutes.
6.  Add the patty pan flesh to the wok, a dash of salt, and lots of pepper.  Stir, cooking 5-10 minutes until almost tender.
7.  Add the mushrooms, then the spinach.  The mushrooms should rehydrate in the thawed spinach juice.  Cook on low for another 5 minutes.
8.  Add the meat back in.  Stir, taste, and adjust the seasoning.
9.  When the empty patty pan is nice and hot, take of the oven.  Add the cream, parmesan, and drizzle of truffled EVOO to the stuffing and stir.
10.  Stuff the patty pan as much as you can, adding the shredded swiss at the end.  I had some stuffing leftover, but no worries, there will be no waste.
11.  Bake in the oven for another 30 minutes (I think??)

Perfect Fall Back meal.  When is that anyway?
I love the earthy taste of the chestnuts.  Fresh ones burst with flavor compared to store bought ones.
Were they organic?  They were wonderful!!
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