Give the savory side of chestnuts a chance to shine in a gravy made with roasted onions, cognac and mixed mushrooms. A sprinkling of parsley and lemon zest brighten it up a bit, making it the perfect condiment for roast beef, a thick piece of crusty bread or roasted root vegetables.

To learn more, read "A Hard Nut to Crack."

Chestnut and Mushroom Gravy with Roasted Onions

Recipe from the Tasting Table Test Kitchen

Yield: 3 cups

Prep Time: 50 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour and 10 minutes


1 pound mixed pearl onions and small cipolline onions

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 pound mixed small mushrooms (such as cremini, chanterelles or black trumpets)--, trimmed, cleaned and thinly sliced

½ cup cognac

3 sprigs thyme

1 fresh bay leaf

1 pound fresh chestnuts, peeled and quartered or 7 ounces ready-to-use, cooked, skinless chestnuts, halved (see note)

2 cups heavy cream

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

Zest of ½ lemon


1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Place the onions on a parchment-lined sheet tray. Toss with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. If the cipollini onions look a little big, cut them into wedges.

2. Roast, shaking the pan occasionally, until the onions are tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the onions from the oven and allow them to cool before peeling.

3. In a large cast-iron or heavy-bottomed pan over medium-high heat, warm the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are tender and browned and all the cooking liquid has evaporated, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove the mushrooms from the heat, add the cognac and light with a match to flambé. Cook the mixture over medium heat until the flame completely resides. Add the reserved onions, thyme, bay leaf, chestnuts and heavy cream to the pan and cook until the sauce has thickened and the chestnuts are tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice and adjust seasoning. Top with parsley and lemon zest.

Note: To peel fresh chestnuts, use a sharp paring or utility knife to score across each chestnut's rounded side. Soak the chestnuts in water for 1 minute, then drain them and heat them in the microwave for 1 minute. Allow the chestnuts to cool before squeezing and peeling them from their shell.

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