Chestnuts are a fantastic all-round ingredient which are as good with a meal like this, as they are with some desserts. If you haven't tried them before, I urge you to do so as you don't know what you're missing.
If you're not sure on how to prepare them, see the guide at the end of this recipe.
250g fresh chestnuts (or 200g frozen peeled chestnuts)
8 dried shiitake mushrooms
3 tbs extra virgin olive oil
3cm-long piece of ginger, peeled and cut into thin slices
1 onion, peeled, cut in half and then cut into ¼ cm wedges
8 chicken thighs, bone in, skin on
8 chicken drumsticks, bone in, skin on
5 tbs dark soy sauce
125ml dry sherry
1 tbs caster sugar
2 pinches salt
1 whole star anise
½ tsp cracked pepper
1. Score chestnuts by cutting a shallow cross on the flat side with the tip of a sharp knife and place in boiling water for 5 minutes till tender. Peel as soon as they’re cool enough to handle. They’ll peel better when still warm. Make sure both skin and fine inner pellicle are removed.
2. Cut chestnuts in half and reserve. Place dried mushrooms in a bowl of hot water and soak for 30 minutes. Drain, remove stem, cut each mushroom in half and reserve.
3. Heat a large, heavy pot and add oil. When it begins to smoke add ginger and onion. Stir for 15 seconds and then add chicken thighs and drumsticks. Keep turning chicken until skin is golden making sure onions and ginger doesn’t burn. Add soy sauce, half the sherry, sugar and salt. Stir well so the soy has completely coloured the chicken. Add the star anise, pepper and the water and stir well.
4. Turn down to a simmer and place a lid on the pot. Keep simmering for 15 minutes occasionally turning the chicken. Add the remaining sherry, the chestnuts and the mushrooms. Mix in, cover and simmer gently for another 15 minutes.
5. Remove from heat and let rest for 10 minutes. Serve with steamed rice.
Chestnuts are also a delicious snack that you can eat on their own. Why not grab some more and roast them on the BBQ or under the grill.
My guide to chestnut preparation
Step 1: Score chestnuts by cutting a small x on the flat side with the tip of a sharp knife.
Step 2: Depending on whether you need to grill or boil them:
Grilling ... place on a tray under a moderate to hot grill for 10-15 minutes depending on their size. Parts of them will burn and go black. Don't worry! This is just the outer shell.
Boiling ... place in boiling water and cook until tender. If in doubt, cut one in half to check it is cooked through.
Step 3: When ready, place nuts in a clean tea towel. Wrap them for 5 minutes. Given them a little squeeze to make them easier to peel.
Step 4: Unwrap and peel both the outer shell and pellicle (the extra layer between the outer shell and nut). If the recipe your using doesn't require the nut to be whole, cut the chestnut in half while in the shell and scoop out the flesh with a teaspoon.