Your first thought when you saw a side dish of sauteed 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 region, people find plenty of ways to cook and eat it throughout the year. While living in Portugal, I had chestnuts in soups, bread, and dessert, but I’d never had them tossed with onions and bacon, as they are in this dish adapted from a recipe by chef Michel da Costa. It makes sense. The nuts are an excellent foil for the saltiness of the bacon and the caramel sweetness of the onions. Not surprisingly, it makes for a crowd-pleasing Thanksgiving side dish and will be on our table this year. Again.–David Leite
LC Know Your Chestnuts Note
This recipe calls for cooked chestnuts, which you can find in a jar or vacuum-packed bag. If you have the luxury of choosing between jarred and vacuum-packed chestnuts, pick the jarred. Fewer broken casualties that way.
Video: How to Make Portuguese Onions, Chestnuts, and BaconVideo courtesy of WTNH
Portuguese Onions, Chestnuts, and Bacon
- Quick Glance
- 15 M
- 30 M
- Serves 6 to 8 as a side dish
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Recipe Testers Reviews
The title of this recipe is enough to make me smile. Just think about the ingredients—pearl onions, chestnuts, bacon, honey. You can envision how beautiful this recipe is even before you make it. I have many kinds of honey, and opted for chestnut honey in this dish. As you can imagine, it became luscious and sticky and gooey, just like I'd hoped it would. The onions remained a bit crunchy, which is exactly how I like them, and nicely complemented the mealy, earthy chestnuts. But the bacon plays an integral role, adding the salty savory element. First you sauté it, remove it from the pan, then sauté the onions and chestnuts in the drippings, then add honey to it all, and finally add the bacon back to its rightful place. Does that not sound fabulous? Parsley is added at the end for color, but I personally thought it detracted slightly from everything else. (But then,the parsley in my garden is quite...well...powerful.) When I make this next, I'll use fresh thyme rather than parsley, as it's earthy and would go so nicely with the flavor profile. This candy-like yet very savory dish says Thanksgiving and Christmas. It would be the highlight of any meal. I love that it's different than usual. But if I were to make it for a holiday, I would have to keep it warm in the back corner of the dark oven so when the guests are doing the dishes I could excuse myself and feast on it unhindered.