This is a delicious Christmas recipe, which our family have enjoyed several times over the years. Naturally, we vary it a little each time, depending on what ingredients we have available to us. This year, the recipe stars three amazing South Australian ingredients, making it just a little bit more special!
Chestnuts from Nirvana Organic Farm in Stirling
In the Adelaide Hills we know autumn is here when hot roasted chestnuts from Nirvana Organic Farm appear in the streets of Stirling. At Christmas time, we have to content ourselves with dried chestnuts, which the nice people at Nirvana have thoughtfully preserved for us. These dried chestnuts are easy to use – just bring to the boil in a pan of water, then take off the heat and leave for 12 hours. The flavour and texture is as good as fresh. You may also be able to find fresh, canned or vacuum packed chestnuts – if you use these you’ll need double the quantity of dried.
Sun-dried apricots from the South Australian Riverlands
There is a very nice man who drives all the way from the Riverlands to Mount Barker every week (a 7 hour round trip!) to peddle his wares from the side of his van. The quality of the fruit is amazing, and he also sells a variety of dried fruit, which has been hand dried in the sun. The colour and flavour are completely different from supermarket dried fruit, and no preservatives are added.
South Australian Shiraz
We are lucky to live in, and next to, three of the finest wine growing regions in the world: Adelaide Hills, Mclaren Vale and the Barossa Valley. I chose Shiraz for its spicy overtones and deep red fruit but you could use any dry red wine for the recipe.
Chestnut and Apricot Stuffed Mushrooms in a Puff Pastry Parcel
with Rich Shiraz Redcurrant Gravy (serves 4)
8 large Portobello (flat) mushrooms
1 teaspoon dried rosemary or a few sprigs of fresh rosemary
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
Himalayan salt and freshly ground black pepper
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup (250 ml) Shiraz
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon olive oil
50g dried apricots
100 g dried chestnuts (or 200 g if fresh, tinned or vacuum packed)
50 g wholemeal bread (or gluten free if preferred)
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon ground mace (or nutmeg if you don’t have mace)
4 sheets vegan puff pastry (or gluten free if preferred)
1 onion, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
mushroom stalks, reserved from above
marinade from mushrooms
200 ml vegetable stock
2 tablespoons redcurrant jelly
If you are using dried chestnuts, you’ll need to soak them overnight before using them.
Wash mushrooms lightly to remove any dirt, and place gill side up in a large dish. Remove the stalks from mushrooms, chop them finely and set them aside for use in the gravy. Peel and thinly slice the garlic cloves. Scatter the rosemary, garlic slices, salt and pepper over mushrooms, drizzle with the olive oil and wine and leave in cool place for 2 hours.
If your apricots are very dry and firm, put them in a bowl and soak them for 10-20 minutes in enough boiling water to cover them, draining when they have softened a little.
Fry the onion and garlic in the olive oil until translucent and beginning to brown. Place in a large bowl.
If you have a food processor, you can run the apricots, chestnuts and bread through until finely chopped. Otherwise, finely chop the apricots and chestnuts by hand and crumble the bread in with your fingers. Add them to the bowl with the thyme, oregano, and mace. Add salt and pepper to taste. Mix well to form a moist paste. If it isn’t moist enough to stick together, add a little water or vegetable stock.
Remove the mushrooms from the marinade and place on a baking tray under the grill, for about 5 minutes on each side. Remove and set aside to cool a little. Save the marinade for the gravy.
Separate the puff pastry sheets and leave to defrost on the bench while you make the gravy. Fry the onion and garlic in the olive oil, until softened a little. Add the chopped mushroom stalks. Add the reserved marinade and vegetable stock and simmer for a few minutes, then add the redcurrant jelly and stir until melted. Boil until thickened a little, adding a little more water or vegetable stock if necessary. If the gravy is too runny, mix 1 or 2 teaspoons cornflour or arrowroot with a little water and stir into the gravy, until it is the thickness you require. You can strain the gravy for a fancier look, or leave it chunky.
To assemble the pastries, sandwich two mushroom halves together with a thick layer of stuffing and place in the middle of a pastry sheet. Fold up into a neat parcel, trimming as needed to ensure the layers are not too thick (or they won’t cook properly). Turn over and place on a parchment lined baking sheet, with the folds underneath. Brush with soy milk, or a little oil.
Bake the pastries in the oven at 200°C for around 20 minutes until golden brown.
Serve with the Rich Shiraz and Redcurrant Gravy, roast potatoes and lots of veggies. Merry Christmas!