I buy vacuum packed chestnuts in December and January, when supermarkets mark them down to get rid of their Christmas stock. They have a long shelf life, so last well into the year. The cheapest I have found them was 20p a bag, in Asda last year, and my friend Caroline, a fellow yellow-sticker aficionado, has given me several packets of chestnut puree over the years. If chestnuts are outside of your price bracket, any nuts will do; search the snack aisle in the supermarket for cheap bags of redskin peanuts, or salted peanuts and cashews. Simply soak them in cold water overnight and rinse thoroughly to get rid of as much of the salt as possible. If you can bear it, a change of water and second soak strips away most of the lingering salinity, but it is a bit of a fanny to do. To make this vegan, simply swap the stilton for a vegan cheese – Asda again have a good vegan ‘garlic and chive alternative’, and Violife ‘Blu’ would also work well here.
Serves 6-8 generously from 36p each (This post is not sponsored; I provide links to the ingredients that I use so you can see how I calculate my recipe costs, and I may earn a small commission if you click the links and make a purchase.)
1 large onion, red or white, 10p
250g apples, 35p
25g blue cheese, 21p
180g vacuum packed chestnuts, £1.80
170g sage and onion stuffing mix, 38p
1 tbsp oil to line the tin. 2p
First preheat your oven to 180C, and lightly grease a loaf tin or medium sized roasting tin. I have made this recipe in a 20cm x 20cm square tin, a large loaf tin, and a 22cm x 16cm deep tin, so any decent sized tin will do the job. The wider the tin, the quicker the stuffing will cook, so check it after 40 minutes and adjust timings accordingly. Fill your kettle with clean water, and pop it on to boil.
Peel and very finely dice your onion, and toss into a large mixing bowl. Grate in the apple and blue cheese, pour over the entire box of stuffing mixture, and stir well.
Finely chop your chestnuts with a large sharp heavy knife, or place them into a freezer bag and bash with a rolling pin to break up. If you have a small bullet blender or food processor, you can pulse them to a fine crumb, but it’s fine if you don’t – the stuffing holds it all together, and the larger pieces of chestnut impart a fine flavour, if a slightly less even texture.
Stir the chestnuts in. Add 400ml boiling water and stir well to combine. Leave the whole mixture to stand and thicken for 10 minutes.
Give it all a good stir, then spoon it into your prepared tin, smoothing the top down. Bake in the centre of the oven for one hour if using a loaf tin or deep tin, 45 minutes if using a wider, shallower tin. Check it is cooked through by inserting a small sharp knife into the middle. It should come out clean, with perhaps the merest slick of ephemera clinging to the edges, but no more. Bake for 10 more minutes at 160C should it require. Serve piping hot.
I like to serve mine dolloped in a home made yorkshire pudding, with a generous slug of rich gravy pooling at the edges. I’ll post instructions for both shortly…
All text copyright Jack Monroe.
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