Sip & Savor

Chestnut recipes to welcome the chilled days of winter.

Chestnuts are sweet all on their own—but their nutty flavor adds a festive quality to dishes and drinks. Two professionals share their favorite way to use chestnuts in the kitchen and behind the bar. 

Chestnut Old Fashioned 

Robert Gregory, Ironclad Distillery Co., Newport News

2 ounces chestnut-infused Ironclad bourbon

1 ounce bitter chestnut simple syrup


Add ingredients into mixing glass and stir until light froth forms on outside of mixing glass. Strain over fresh ice into an old fashioned glass. Garnish with thick-cut orange peel, expressing the oils on top for aromatics.

For the chestnut-infused Ironclad bourbon:

¼ cup lightly salted roasted chestnuts

6 ounces Ironclad bourbon

In a Mason jar, pour bourbon over roasted chestnuts and seal. Let sit 24 hours in a cool dark place, agitating every couple of hours, then strain through a coffee filter to remove all solids.

For the bitter chestnut simple syrup:

1 ½ cups sugar

1 cup water

1 cup lightly salted roasted chestnuts

¼ ounce orange bitters

Bring sugar and water to a boil. Add roasted chestnuts and let cool to room temperature.  Once cool, add bitters and stir to combine. Let sit one hour, then strain out solids.

Fire-Roasted Chestnut Risotto with Maitake Mushrooms and Butter-Poached Leeks

Anthony Nelson, Field & Main, Marshall

10 chestnuts

½ gallon vegetable stock

2 cups Carolina gold rice

5 ounces clarified butter

1 onion, finely diced

1 leek

½ pound butter

1 cup maitake mushrooms

salt and pepper

½ cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese, grated

Rinse the chestnuts in cold water. Using a sharp knife, score the flat side of each nut with an X. Make sure the cut penetrates the outer shell of the chestnut so that steam can escape while cooking. Then place the chestnuts on a cooking rack over a fire or grill and allow to roast until the shell splits open and the flesh of the nut feels soft. Peel and roughly chop the chestnuts.

Heat vegetable stock in a pot. In a separate pot, heat 3 ounces of the clarified butter over medium-high heat, then add the onion. Stir with a wooden spoon to make sure everything cooks evenly. When the onions become translucent, add the rice, still stirring. Reduce the heat to medium, then add 2 to 4 ounces of the stock at a time, and continue to stir. Add stock and continue stirring until the rice has become al dente in texture, after about 6 to 7 cups of stock. When the rice is fully cooked, spread it onto a parchment-lined sheet tray to stop the cooking process.

Remove the green tops and bottom tip from the leek and slice the white part in half lengthwise, then chop into ½-inch pieces. In a small pot, melt the butter over low heat—do not brown, then add the leek. Cook the leek until tender, and then remove from the butter and allow to cool.

Heat the remaining clarified butter in a medium pot. Add the maitake mushrooms and season with salt and pepper to taste. Once the mushrooms are cooked through, add 4 ounces of the vegetable stock. Add the rice mixture and combine. The rice should absorb the stock; the mixture should not be wet. Add the chopped chestnuts and combine. Add the heavy cream, stirring continuously. The mixture should be creamy, not runny. Add a couple spoonful of the butter-poached leeks to finish the creaming process of the risotto. Once the butter and cream are fully incorporated, seasoning with salt, pepper and Parmesan cheese. The risotto should be creamy and not stiff; when you place a spoonful on a plate, it should relax and spread.

For more on chestnuts, pick up a copy of our December 2018 issue. 

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