Your first thought when you saw a side dish of onions, chestnuts, and bacon was Thanksgiving, right? Well, the Portuguese don’t celebrate the holiday, but they do grow plenty of chestnuts. When something is as vital to the local economy as chestnuts are to the Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro regions, people find plenty of ways for cooking and eating the food throughout the year. While living in Portugal, I had chestnuts in soups, breads, and desserts, but I’d never had them tossed with onions and bacon as they are in this recipe that’s adapted from chef Michel da Costa, though it makes perfect sense. The nuts are an excellent foil for the saltiness of the bacon and the caramelized sweetness of the onions.
Not surprisingly, this recipe makes for a crowd-pleasing Thanksgiving side dish and will be on our table this year. Again.–David Leite
LC Cheaters' Chestnuts Note
Those gorgeous unshelled chestnuts that you find piled high in bins come winter? They make you all sentimental and singsongy, but they can be a pain to roast and peel. Moreover, to add insult to injury, freshly shelled chestnuts can be starchy tasting. Darn. Looks like you better opt for already shelled jarred or otherwise packaged chestnuts.
Sautéed Onions, Chestnuts, and Bacon Recipe
- Quick Glance
- 15 M
- 30 M
- Serves 6 to 8 as a side dish
- 1/2 pound thick-sliced slab bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch pieces
- 1 pound pearl onions (a scant 1 inch in diameter)
- 1 pound peeled, roasted chestnuts (from a jar or vacuum-sealed pack)
- 2 tablespoons honey
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, for garnish
- 1. Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium-low heat, stirring often, until the fat has rendered and the meaty bits start to crisp, about 12 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain.
- 2. Meanwhile, fill a bowl with ice and water. Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil. Drop in the onions and blanch for 30 seconds. Scoop out the onions with a slotted spoon and plop them in the ice water. Peel the onions by snipping off the tip and removing the papery outer layers. Pat the onions dry.
- 3. Nudge the heat under the skillet to medium, toss in the onions, and cook them in the bacon fat, stirring occasionally, until spotted with brown and tender throughout, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the chestnuts, cooked bacon, and honey to the skillet and gently toss until the chestnuts are warmed through, being careful not to cause the fragile chestnuts to crumble. Season the jumble with salt and plenty of pepper and then scoop into a decorative bowl. Sprinkle with the parsley.
Hungry for more? Chow down on these:
- Lentil Chestnut Soup from Chocolate & Zuccchini
- Chestnut Stuffing from Macheesmo
- Wild Rice with Roasted Chestnuts and Cranberries from Leite's Culinaria
- Roasted Stuffed Partridge and Myrtle with Chestnut Polenta from Leite's Culinaria
Sautéed Onions, Chestnuts, and Bacon Recipe © 2009 David Leite. Photo © 2009 Nuno Correia. All rights reserved.