Chef Gianluca Deiana Abis: Baked Chestnuts/Castagne Al Forno
Prep. time: 5
Cook Time: 25
Difficulty: 1 out of 5
Chestnuts- You can use as many chestnuts as you like. Make sure they are firm to the touch.
Water- our chestnuts are going to get boiled before getting baked or let them soak in water and wine for 8 hours
Pulse onion, celery, and carrot in a food processor until very finely chopped. Transfer to a small bowl.
Heat oil in a large pot over medium. Break beef into small clumps (about 1½") and add to pot; season lightly with salt. Cook, stirring occasionally but not breaking meat apart, until beef is lightly browned but not crisp, 6–8 minutes. It may be gray in spots (that’s okay!) and still a little pink in the center. Using a slotted spoon, transfer beef to a medium bowl.
Wipe out pot. Cook pancetta in pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until pancetta has released some of its fat and is crisp, 6–8 minutes. Add onion mixture to pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are very soft and beginning to stick to surface, 6–8 minutes.
Return beef to pot and pour in wine. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, smashing down on beef with a wooden spoon, until wine is evaporated, surface of pot is almost dry, and meat is finely ground, 12–15 minutes. (The meat should be reduced to what looks like little bits. It takes a bit of effort, but you can take breaks.) Add tomato paste, bay leaf, and nutmeg and cook, stirring occasionally and still pressing down on meat, until tomato paste is slightly darkened, about 5 minutes.
Pour stock and milk into pot; add a pinch of salt. Reduce heat to the lowest setting and cook, uncovered and stirring occasionally, until meat is very, very tender, 2–2½ hours. There shouldn’t be any rapid bubbles at this stage. Instead, the sauce should release the occasional small bubble or two. When finished, the sauce should have the texture of and look like a sloppy joe mixture. If the liquid reduces before the meat is completely tender, add an extra ½ cup stock and continue cooking. Discard bay leaf. Taste sauce and adjust seasoning with salt; keep warm.
Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water. If using fresh pasta, cook about 3 minutes. If using dry, cook until very al dente, about 2 minutes less than package directions.
Using tongs, transfer pasta to pot with sauce. Add 1 cup pasta cooking liquid and ½ cup Parmesan. Increase heat to medium, bring to a simmer, and cook, tossing constantly, until pasta is al dente and liquid is slightly thickened, about 2 minutes.
Transfer pasta to a platter and top with more Parmesan.
Oven: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
With a serrated knife, slice a large ‘X’ on the flat side of the chestnuts. Place the chestnuts in a pot of cold water. As soon as the water begins to boil, remove the chestnuts with a slotted spoon and place on a shallow baking pan. This quick boil will create the perfect environment for steam to be created once they hit the hot oven. Place scored chestnuts on a baking sheet with the X facing up. Bake until the shell of the chestnut is peeling back around the ‘X’ (depending on the chestnuts approximately 15-25 minutes). Remove from oven and place a kitchen towel over the pan allowing them to steam slightly for 15 minutes.
Brunello di Montalcino
When purchasing chestnuts look for chestnuts that:
have a glossy look, are unblemished, are firm to the touch and feel heavy for their size.
Always try to roast your store bought chestnuts within 2-3 days as the freshness will not last very long, even in the fridge.