Chicken in Chestnut Sauce

Referred to in Spanish as Pollo en Salsa de Castanas - this delicious dish is served after Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve in Mexico.

But why should we have to wait until then to enjoy this celebratory dish?

Mexican cuisine has really taken off here in Australia. It is everywhere and people are flocking to restaurants and pop up venues around the city to sample new modern adaptations of the already famed taco and delicious marinated meats. Australia's current series of Masterchef has even become a platform for it, with Tasmanian contestant Ben whipping up some of his favourite Mexican dishes.

Photo Source: Jixar
Chestnuts are divine! and too often forgotten. Whilst I have always been aware of their existence, it wasn't until Pete and I visited Avignon in France a few years back when I first really noticed them. We purchased a brown paper bag of hot roasted chestnuts for 2 Euro whilst wandering the streets. I cannot begin to describe just how amazing they tasted. I only wish we could the equivalent here on the streets here in Sydney. I'm a huge fan!

Gluten and cholesterol free, these little gems contain hardly any fat and are rich in mineral salts, and a good source of folate and vitamins C, B1 & B2.

What I really love about this dish is that it is really unique and the nuttiness of the chestnuts gives the sauce a lovely texture with a hint of sweetness. The addition of cream combines with the chestnut and tomato puree bringing a nice richness to the dish. This dish makes quite a bit of sauce which is perfect for mopping up with fluffy rice, creamy mashed potato or chunk of crusty bread. I may or may not have been seen hovering near the remaining sauce after dinner...

Pollo en Salsa de Castanas 
(Chicken in Chestnut Sauce)
Recipe adapted from The Festive Food of Mexico - Elizabeth Lambert Ortiz
Serves 3-4

800g chicken pieces of your choice ( we used thigh pieces)
1 brown onion, chopped
1 bouquet garni ( spring of thyme, marjoram and a bay leaf tied together)
70ml dry white wine
500ml chicken stock
salt and pepper
250g whole peeled chestnuts - click here on how to prepare chestnuts
225g chopped peeled tomatoes ( tinned is fine)
70ml double or heavy cream
2 tbs medium dry sherry

Place the chicken pieces into a heavy casserole dish with half the onion, bouquet garni, wine, and enough stock to cover. Season to taste with salt and pepper and cover and allow to simmer over a very low heat until the chicken is tender ( about 40 min).
Remove the chicken, cover and keep warm.Pour stock into a bowl and skim off as much fat as possible.

In a food processor combine the chestnuts, tomatoes and remaining onion and about 100ml of stock and reduce to a puree. Transfer to casserole dish and thin to a sauce consistency by adding extra stock as needed. Simmer, covered, over a low heat to combine the flavours for about 5 minutes.

Add the cream, sherry and chicken pieces and cook over a low heat for long enough to heat the chicken through.

Serve with plenty of plain rice and/or vegetables of your choice.

The Food Mentalist sampled this season's delicious chestnuts courtesy of Impact Communications


  1. Mmm I love the sound of this dish! I'd never really thought of chestnuts in Mexican cuisine before! :)

  2. And just the weather for it. This sounds delicious. They're often dishing up toasted chestnuts at Norton St Grocer...such a tantalising smell. Thanks for sharing this lovely recipe.

  3. Sounds awesome! I must admit I'm very lazy when it comes to cooking with chestnuts, but I do love them.

  4. I love proper Mexican dishes like this. Perfect dish to put together on a cold and wet weekend!

  5. With chestnut season upon up, this is such a great sounding dish. Mexican food is really taking off over the past few years, and now getting a big bite of MC.


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