The festive season is approaching and I’ve been thinking what mighty concoctions and gourmet experiments I would like to offer to my guests this festive season. I’ve been doing some research in various printed and online versions and I will share some of the brightest ideas with you in the next couple of weeks. Hopefully these recipes will serve you as inspiration and hopefully you will find time in your busy schedule to make your family and friends feel truly special this holiday season.
We kick Part I of the new Festive Gourmet Menu Series with an easy, yet very tasty and aromatic home-made liqueur recipe. I just read it on the Guardian website and I remembered how much I love chestnuts. I recommend you buy especially grown chestnuts for cooking, rather than forage local specimens, as the “farm” ones are bigger, sweeter and have much nicer texture. You can buy them already blanched as well and save yourselves some time and effort pealing away their difficult skin. But if you buy them fresh, you’ll have to boil them for about 20 minutes and then carefully removed their skin before you start with the recipe. Take precaution not to burn yourselves!
500g chestnuts (when peeled)
150g brown sugar
15g of white truffle (optional due to its ridiculous cost but very recommended)
Place the nuts in a wide saucepan and cook very gently in 200ml of water for another 10 minutes with the lid on and without stirring. Carefully remove the nuts and stir in the sugar until dissolved. Return the nuts to the pan and cook gently with the lid off for another five. Place the nuts in a jar or an appropriate bottle, add the liquor via a fine sieve then add the brandy.
Leave them unopened for at least two weeks. My grandma used to leave them on a window shelf so they gather sun and hence, better taste. The chestnuts themselves taste rather splendid and you can take them out and eat serve them along with your liqueur after a few weeks.
Bonus Recipe: Chestnut Manhattan
If you really want to impress your guests on X-mas day, for example, here is a quick cocktail recipe to use with your chestnut liqueur:
3 tbsp of your home-made chestnut liqueur
1 tbsp sweet vermouth
50ml/2fl oz bourbon
2 dashes bitters
1 twist orange peel
1 twist lemon peel
Place the chestnut liqueur, sweet vermouth, bourbon and bitters into a cocktail shaker with a handful of ice. Add a slice of orange peel and shake, shake, shake! Strain into a coupe glass and garnish with a twist of lemon peel.