Chestnut Heaven

One of the things that I really like about winter is chestnut season.

I remember fondly when my grandmother would splurge and buy chestnuts every december. They were quite expensive when I was a child, but the house smelled so nice when she was roasting them in the oven. My first experience of eating fire roasted chestnuts was not until I lived in Europe. I couldn’t wait to see the vendors rolling their carts yelling “Roasted Chestnuts” in German, Italian or French. I loved biting into their floury goodness and now I enjoy finding recipes in which they can be used to accent a dish.

I had some goulash meat in the freezer that needed to be cooked and I started looking at recipes I hadn’t made yet. And since winter has begun here in Israel, and I had just bought a big bag of chestnuts, I started craving a hearty winter dish. I found an amazing recipe bursting with flavour. I am not sure where this dish originates from, but I know that it is from somewhere in the Caucasus. The spices, the walnuts, the pomegranate juice impart an amazing, dare I say orgasmic flavour to the dish and the house smelled like a spice market. I highly recommend this recipe and I will definitely make it again and again.

I didn’t have any sour apricots on hand, so I used dried sour cherries, but they were lost in the dish. I served it over a brown rice.

Beef Stew with Chestnuts and Pomegranate
  • 455 g 1 lb chestnuts roasted and shelled
  • 2 medium onions
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 800 g 1-3/4 lbs goulash or stew beef, cut into 1/2-inch cubes ( I used frozen goulash meat that I thawed out)
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric ground
  • 1/4 teaspoon saffron threads crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon ground
  • 1 cup walnuts minced fine
  • 1/4 - 1/2 cup of sour apricots cut into quarters
  • 1 cup pomegranate juice
  • 2 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 3 tablespoon lemon juice freshly squeezed
  • 1-1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 teaspoon honey or date honey
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 garlic clove minced fine
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley as garnish optional
  1. Heat the oil in a heavy casserole over medium heat. Saute the onions and garlic for 10 minutes. Raise the heat to high, add the meat, turmeric, salt, pepper, and brown meat on all sides. Stir in the saffron, cinnamon, walnuts, sour apricots, tomato paste, and chicken stock. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 1-1/2 hours.
  2. Note: Depending on the cut of meat, you may need to cook this for 2 hours. Just make sure you check it half way through because you may need to add a little more liquid.
  3. Add the lemon juice, pomegranate juice, and chestnuts. Stir well, cover and simmer for 10 more minutes. Serve over a bed of saffron rice.
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Written by Baroness Tapuzina

Michelle Nordell (aka Baroness Tapuzina) was a foodie from the womb growing up in the House of Weird Vegetables, so named by a family friend because all of the unusual and exotic food cooked and eaten there. She loves to change recipes using herbs from her garden and spices from the spice shops she enjoys visiting.

7 thoughts on “Chestnut Heaven

  1. Michelle,

    By sour apricots, do you mean dried apricots? I’m saving this recipe to give the family a treat sometime soon.


  2. I do mean dried apricots, but there are two varieties that are dried. One is what is called a Mediterranean apricot usually from Turkey, which you can find in every supermarket and the other is called Sour apricots which are typically from California. These are more tart and I prefer to use them for cooking because they are more tart. They also impart a stronger apricot flavour. You can usually find these in the Shuk.

  3. I made this the other night, following the recipe fairly to the letter. the flavors were wonderful, but thought there wasn’t quite enough meat, and wondering whether another meat, lamb perhaps, would work well with those flavors. Also would half the chestnuts next time and not use quite as many. Any thoughts on those thoughts?

  4. I think lamb would be be great for the recipe. I forgot to mention that the original recipe called for lamb.

    I look at a recipe as a guide. Some people prefer bold flavours while others prefer more subtle flavours. Some people prefer more meat and others less. I don’t think it would be a problem adding another adding 1kg or 2.2lbs of meat to the recipe. You may have to add a little more liquid.

    I am glad that you tried the recipe. Let me know if you try it with lamb. Lamb is very expensive here, so I don’t cook with it very much.

  5. The recipe was good. Saffron had a lovely touch as well as the sauce which had an interesting combination of elements. We bought stew/goulash meat and it was tough. Was it that we didn’t cook it long enough or maybe it needed a bit more to tenderize it – break down the collagen fibers, etc. Followed the recipe carefully.

    Would like to ask you more about Baroness Tapuzina and your writing and wonder if you’d like to publish the recipe in our e-newsletter, The Honey ( Email us at and let’s talk!

  6. It would definitely depend on the cut of meat. I would suggest checking the meat half way in the cooking time and see if the meat is getting tender. If not, then you might have to add more broth or water and cook it for a half an hour longer. I will find out what cut of meat I used and add that as a suggestion in the recipe.

    I really appreciate all of the feedback.

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