Three ways that chefs are using chestnuts
Christmas is over, but chestnuts aren't going anywhere.
“Chestnuts,” Due Lire owner Massimo Di Vuolo rhapsodizes. “I love chestnuts. They are so seasonal. They are so hearty.” Naturally, the cold-weather nut has a role in Due Lire’s winter menu: Chef Kevin Abshire toasts them, then tosses them into a tortelloni dish bursting with soft Swiss chard and brown butter. 4520 N Lincoln Ave (773-275-7878).
“Why people don’t like chestnuts is because they get overcooked,” says Grahamwich executive chef Merlin Verrier. “You cook them too far and they get super mealy.” To avoid that unappealing texture, Verrier and his crew peel the chestnuts’ exterior and fry them. Then they sauté them in sugar, butter and vinegar until they’re glazed and crunchy. The chestnuts top Grahamwich’s seasonal soft serve offering: Frozen Greek yogurt with pomegranate seeds and dark chocolate. 615 N State St (312-624-9188).
“They’re not super, super nutty,” says chef Dale Levitski about chestnuts. “They have a really mild, savory flavor.” Levitski finds that the flavor goes equally well with sweet and savory dishes, so chestnuts were a good match for the slightly sweet take on venison that’s on the menu at Sprout. The spice-rubbed loin is plated over a cauliflower-potato-chestnut mash spiked with salt, sugar and vanilla, and finished with a glogg demiglace. Levitski’s one-word summation of the dish: “Unique.” 1417 W Fullerton Ave (773-348-0706).