The season for fresh chestnuts is over, but with the extended winter we’re having, this warm and savoury risotto is still appropriate. I have used fresh chestnuts, vacuum packed (Merchant Gourmet) as well as canned (Clement Faugier) and they all work and are available at any supermarket (in the UK at least). What you use depends on how much time you have. Remember, if you’re going to boil chestnuts, add a bay leaf into the water. It makes all the difference. As for vegetable stock, if I have time, I make it from scratch. If not, I use either Kallo cubes or Knorr Rich Vegetable Stock Pot and I add a couple of tablespoons of seaweed sprinkles for umami.
I adapted this recipe to vegan and it is just as delicious. My adapted recipe is below the photo.
The original recipe says that it serves four. In this household, it serves two with a bit left over for one for lunch.
- a glug of olive oil
- 1 onion, peeled and finely diced
- 350g risotto rice
- 200ml white wine
- About 1 L hot vegetable stock
- 250g chestnuts, cooked – or if you’re using tin or vacuumed kind then use all the package (and crumble 200g/most of them and finely slice the rest/a palmful)
- 200g vegan margarine
- 3 or more Tbsps of nutritional yeast (I use Engevita with B-12)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Flat-leaf parsley
Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until soft and translucent (5-10 minutes depending on your pan and heat). Stir in the rice, cook until you see it turning clear around the edges and remaining white at the heart. This means that the rice has released some of its starch. Turn up the heat and add the wine – it should sizzle as it hits the pan. Cook for about two minutes, so the alcohol evaporates. Once the wine has reduced, begin adding hot stock a ladleful at a time, stirring the rice all the time and allowing each ladle of stock to be absorbed before adding the next – the rice should always be moist but never swimming in liquid. This process takes about 20-30 minutes. For the last four minutes of cooking, add the crumbled chestnuts. Remove from the heat and stir in the margarine. Stir in the nutritional yeast, season generously, scatter over the parsley and serve with the sliced chestnuts arranged over the top.