Braised Chestnuts and Shallots / Kastana Stifado


Chestnuts, one of the oldest foods in the eastern Mediterranean, known to the ancient and modern Greeks alike by the same name, kastano, have always been an important food. This unusual Greek recipe, from my book My Greek Table, is one of my favorites. It is an old country dish from Arcadia in the Peloponnese. Serve it with Greek or other noodles, or on its own.

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup /60 ml extra-virgin Greek olive oil
  • 10 small shallots
  • 3 garlic cloves chopped]
  • 1 cup 180 g coarsely chopped fresh or canned tomatoes
  • 3 cups peeled defrosted frozen or vacuum-packed chestnuts
  • cup 160 ml dry red wine
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons Greek balsamic vinegar
  • 5 or 6 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 4 allspice berries

Instructions

  1. In a wide shallow medium pot, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the whole shallots and cook until lightly caramelized, about 20 minutes. Stir in the garlic. Add the tomatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer for 15 minutes to thicken slightly.
  2. Add the chestnuts, wine, vinegar, thyme, bay leaf, cinnamon, and allspice and cook until the chestnuts are tender and the pot juices are dense and thick. Remove and discard the thyme, bay leaf, cinnamon, and allspice. Serve.
  3. This is great on winter holiday tables and makes a wonderful alternative if you have any vegan guests.

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