Lamb-and-Chestnut Stew


Served with polenta, this stew is flavored with sage, rosemary, and sun-dried cranberries.


  • 14 ounces fresh chestnuts

  • 2 pounds lamb stew meat, cut into 2-inch pieces

  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

  • All-purpose flour, for dredging

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

  • 6 ounces pearl onions, peeled

  • 12 ounces small button mushrooms

  • 1 cup red wine

  • 3 ½ cups homemade or low-sodium canned beef stock

  • 4 canned Italian plum tomatoes, drained and seeded

  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage

  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary

  • ½ cup sun-dried cranberries

  • Polenta for Lamb-and-Chestnut Stew


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using a chestnut knife or a small paring knife, make an incision about 1/8 inch deep through the shell and into the flesh of each chestnut almost all the way around the circumference of the nut.Transfer to a chestnut pan or rimmed baking pan. Roast in the oven until the chestnuts are tender, about 35 minutes.Turn the oven off. Leaving the pan with the chestnuts in the oven, remove several at a time.Working quickly, place 1 chestnut in a towel, and, holding both, peel the chestnut while still hot. Remove and discard the shells and inner skin; set aside.

  2. Season the lamb with salt and pepper. Dredge the meat in flour, and shake off excess; set aside. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add lamb, in a single layer without crowding, and cook until browned all over, about 5 minutes.Transfer lamb to a dish. Repeat browning with the remaining olive oil and meat.

  3. To the Dutch oven, add onions, and cook until golden, about 4 minutes. Add mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, and cook until well browned, 5 to 6 minutes. Add red wine, scraping any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook until the wine is reduced by half, about 5 minutes.

  4. Add the reserved lamb, beef stock, chestnuts, tomatoes, sage, and rosemary, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, uncovered, until the meat is very tender, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Add cranberries, and cook 2 minutes. (Proceed with step 5, and serve immediately, or let cool, refrigerate overnight, and proceed with step 5 just before serving.)

  5. Serve the hot polenta with the lamb-and-chestnut stew.

Cook's Notes

Stews are best when cooked the day before they are served. Store in the refrigerator, covered, overnight. When ready to serve, place the covered stew over medium-low heat, until hot. Just before the stew is ready, prepare the polenta.

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