SERVES 10 – 12
Chestnuts "roasting on an open fire" (or on wintry street corners) are emblematic of the holidays. Higher in starch and lower in oil than most other nuts, they are also traditionally added, especially in European countries, to the stuffing for goose, to help soak up the bird's abundant fat. We like chestnut stuffing, too, in leaner birds like turkey, capon, and chicken, just for the flavor.
1/2 lb. butter
6–8 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
4 cups torn white crustless bread
4 cups peeled roasted chestnuts
1 tbsp. fresh thyme or winter savory leaves
1/4 cup heavy cream
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Preheat oven to 350°. Melt butter in a large heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Add shallots and cook, stirring often, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add bread, stir until well combined with shallots, and continue to cook until bread is lightly browned.
2. Remove skillet from heat, add chestnuts and thyme, and, using your fingers, break up about a quarter of the chestnuts. Drizzle in cream and stir until stuffing is just moist but not packed together. Generously season with salt and pepper.
3. Spoon warm stuffing into turkey, truss, and bake. Or transfer stuffing to a medium buttered baking dish with a cover. Bake for about 30 minutes covered; then uncover and continue to bake until stuffing is hot and lightly golden on top, 15 minutes more. Garnish with a large sprig of fresh thyme or winter savory, if you like.