Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Autummy chestnut flan

Sweet chestnuts used to be the most important part of the Galician diet back in the day, being the starchy basis of daily meals before the mighty potato was introduced from South America.

The chestnut still remains a big Autumm favourite and the star of the 'Magosto', which is mainly a party celebrating the chestnut harvest, its main purpose being to gather together and roast and eat chestnuts (and sort of celebrate the beginning of winter too).

As a kid, we celebrated a 'magosto' party at school and I loved going to my grandparents around this time of the year, to gather chestnuts and roast them in the fire. Roasted or boiled and eaten with milk... as children we loved the sweet floury taste of chestnuts and the fun involved in picking them, and cooking them. Never to be eaten raw though, as granny said warms will grow in your belly. It might be a myth but just in case...

This year I found some French chestnuts at the Gorey Farmers Market and decided I'd try to make a chestnut flan (creme caramel). It was my first ever flan, and my first ever chestnut flan... and it didn't turn out too shabby! I followed a Galician recipe book that has the shortest recipes ever (they are all about 4 lines long in average!) in true Galician cooking free-style.

Here's what I needed:

500gr (approx) of sweet chestnuts
200gr of sugar
milk (2 bowls - around a pint and 1/2)
4 eggs (separate yolk and whites)
a drop of vanilla essence

First I boiled the chestnuts in water so they can be peeled properly.
Once peeled, I boiled the chestnuts in the milk with the vanilla essence and 150gr of sugar.
The chestnuts will disintegrate in the milk eventually. To help them along, you can blend the mix for a bit.

Prepare a big bowl (the one you'll cook the flan in, it needs to go in bain Marie so it must be resilient) lining it with caramel (in a saucepan melt sugar with a bit of water, then pour in the bowl - my caramel wasn't great but it did the job).

 Once you think the chestnuts have blended into the milk, sieve the mixture (so there are no lumpy bits of chestnut in your flan). Add the other 50gr of sugar and the egg yolk. Then add the whites (first, whisk them to get a bit of fluffyness). Mix well and pour in your caramel lined bowl.

Put the bowl in a big pot with water so you can boil it (bain marie) for roughly 45min to an hour. Let it cool down and turn upside down on a plate or dish. Voila! eat cool with sugary whipped cream. Enjoy your magosto!

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