Chestnut Chenna en Crout



This is an opulent main course prep I created a few years ago. It's a good alternative to the fancy nut roasts that often seem to find their way onto the vegetarian table this time of year.

Chenna en croute (food that's wrapped in pastry and baked) is a bit like a round of baked brie. But in this case, the chenna is medium soft curd, well flavoured with herbs and spices, and complimented with layers of a pureed chestnut mixture. The prep is quite rich, so small servings will suffice. You can make them as individual rounds, 3-1/2 to 4 inches in diameter, or make a single, larger pastry.

Ingredients:

    For the chenna:
      1 gallon milk
      1 pint heavy cream
      cup lemon juice
      A few sprigs fresh tarragon, finely chopped
      Saffron threads
      tsp. Nutmeg

    For the chestnut spread:

      30 to 40 chestnuts, cooked
      2 tablespoons heavy cream
      A few sprigs fresh parsley, finely chopped
      1/8 tsp. (or less ) asofoetida
      Coarse black pepper, to taste
      Pimentos, 1/8 cup (if desired)

    For the crust:

      Your favorite pie or light savoury crust

    For the garnish:

      A handful of fresh sage
      3 tablespoons butter
      2 cups sour cream
      1 cup dark red cherries in syrup (or other berries)

Preparation:

Make chenna in the usual way. Press under medium weight for 10 minutes then knead out the threads by breaking the chenna down with the heel of your hand or a rolling pin. (Doing it by hand is harder work, but more effective.) When done, fluff the chenna back up with your fingers and mix in evenly the nutmeg and tarragon. Steep the saffron threads in a little hot milk and add, mixing thoroughly.

Shape the chenna into the desired number, size and shape of rounds and pat the edges into a nice, 'solid' round. With a broad knife, carefully slice the round in half horizontally.

Next, make a mixture of pureed chestnuts (fresh roasted or canned), 2 tablespoons heavy cream, along with the parsley, asofoetida and black pepper. If you want to add a little more color, finely mince the pimento and mix in thoroughly. (Don't use fresh red pepper as the taste is too strong.)

Roll your dough out and use a bowl to cut pastry rounds in a size that will encase your chenna 'sandwiches'. Now spread a layer of the chestnut mixture between the two rounds, and add a little more on top. (I usually fill all the centers, then evenly divide whatever's leftover onto the tops.

Turn the chenna 'sandwich' over and place it top-down on the pastry, gathering the dough and making it as flat as possible, sealed on the bottom. Turn over and place on a baking sheet.

Cut out a few leaf shapes and stick them on top of crust, brushing the leaves top and bottom with a bit of cream or buttermilk so they'll adhere to the crust. Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 40 to 45 minutes, until the crust is golden brown.

Just before offering, fry the sage leaves in butter until they're very crispy. Remove the chenna en croute from the oven, sprinkle the crushed sage on top, and put a dollop of sour cream on the side, drizzled with a few cherries. Offer to Sri Krsna with love and devotion.

Serving: makes about six.



Previous Recipes

Fruit Dahi Vada

Cauliflower, Red Pepper Sabji

Eggplant Brahmastra

Green Pea and Nut Pakoras

Stuffed Bitter Melon

Sweet Fruit Ladoos

Mango Pecan Raita

Damayanti's Sweetmeats

Kurukshetra Sweetballs

Stuffed Baby Eggplant



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