Challah Chestnut Stuffing

Challah Chestnut Stuffing - Kosher Thanksgiving Holiday Recipe

There’s a nip in the air, even here in sunny Los Angeles, reminding me that Thanksgiving is right around the corner– a time of year that makes me very, very happy. Thanksgiving is my very favorite non-Jewish holiday, so I was tickled to learn that it may have been inspired by the Jewish holiday Sukkot. It’s not the roasted turkey or the NFL football or the pumpkin pie that makes me love this holiday… although I must admit, that stuff is great! I was actually born on Thanksgiving, and the arrival of the holiday reminds me how thankful I am to be alive. I always look forward to our cozy meal with family and friends. We gather to remind ourselves how grateful we are for our many blessings. What could be better than that?

Some Jews do not observe Thanksgiving, as they abstain from celebrating all non-Jewish holidays. However, most American Jews do celebrate Thanksgiving because it is a non-religious holiday that is more about being American than being religious. In our family, T-Day is actually our second biggest family gathering (our largest celebration is Passover). We believe that anything good and positive is cause for celebration, which means we embrace many holidays that are not traditionally Jewish. In keeping with the way our family celebrates, over the next couple of weeks I’ll be posting some kosher ideas for the Thanksgiving table. I’ll start today with my Challah Chestnut Stuffing.

In an effort to create a culturally blended approach to Thanksgiving, I created this kosher stuffing from challah. Using challah as a base for the stuffing was an easy choice; it’s naturally absorbent, making it well suited to stuffing. For extra savory flavor, my mind immediately went to schmaltz. The combination of eggy challah bread crumbs, schmaltz-seared vegetables, fresh herbs and subtly sweet chestnuts make this stuffing truly unique.

I really recommend cooking this dish with schmaltz, it adds a ton of flavor to the stuffing. If you’re avoiding meat, the stuffing can be made pareve/vegetarian style. Simply substitute margarine for schmaltz (I recommend organic Earth Balance) and use your favorite vegetable broth. Of course, if you’re not worried about keeping kosher, feel free to use butter!

A Note About Chestnuts: I love the slightly sweet flavor and meaty texture of chestnuts, but they can be tough to track down, particularly the pre-peeled variety. You can roast the chestnuts in shell and peel them yourself. I’ve roasted chestnuts before, and I have to say the process of peeling them is difficult and time-consuming. I really recommend the peeled and roasted variety (Gefen’s are kosher, pre-peeled and roasted and available in Tori’s Market). If this all sounds too daunting, you can leave out the chestnuts… the stuffing will taste fine without them.

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Challah Chestnut Stuffing - Kosher Thanksgiving Holiday Recipe

Challah Chestnut Stuffing

Ingredients

  • 1 cup pre-shelled roasted chestnuts or 3/4 lb. chestnuts in shell
  • 1/4 cup schmaltz or margarine, divided (if you're not keeping kosher, feel free to use butter)
  • 1/2 lb. (8 oz.) sliced white mushrooms
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 2 cups celery, diced including leaves
  • 1 cup carrots, diced small
  • 1/2 cup curly leaf parsley, minced
  • 2 tbsp fresh sage, minced
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves, minced
  • 1 tsp fresh marjoram, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 qt. (4 cups) chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 medium loaf of dairy-free challah bread, cubed (about 10 cups of cubes)
  • 4 eggs, beaten
Total Time: 1 Hour 30 Minutes
Servings: 10-12 servings
Kosher Key: Meat or Pareve depending on oil/broth used
  • If you are using pre-peeled chestnuts, chop them into bits and reserve them in a bowl for later use. If you are using chestnuts in the shell, you will need to roast and peel them before chopping-- in my experience this takes about 45 minutes of prep time.
  • Challah Chestnut Stuffing - Kosher Thanksgiving Holiday RecipePreheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a skillet, melt 2 tbsp schmaltz or margarine over medium high heat, tilting to coat the bottom of the pan. Spread the mushrooms in a single layer at the bottom of the skillet. Sprinkle them with salt and pepper and turn the heat to high. Let the mushrooms sear without stirring. After 2 minutes, stir the mushrooms continuously for another 2-3 minutes until they are seared golden brown and shrink to half their size.
  • Challah Chestnut Stuffing - Kosher Thanksgiving Holiday RecipeReserve the mushrooms in a bowl, return skillet to the stove. Turn flame to medium high and melt 2 more tbsp of schmaltz or margarine in the skillet. Saute the onion till it softens, then add the celery, carrots, minced garlic cloves and chopped chestnuts.
  • Challah Chestnut Stuffing - Kosher Thanksgiving Holiday RecipeSaute mixture for 5 minutes until veggies begin to brown and caramelize. Stir in the seared mushrooms, parsley, and herbs.
  • Challah Chestnut Stuffing - Kosher Thanksgiving Holiday RecipePour in 3 cups of the chicken or veggie broth (reserve the last cup), bring to a boil. Reduce heat and allow mixture to simmer for 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste (I like lots of black pepper!). Remove from heat and let the mixture cool for a few minutes.
  • Challah Chestnut Stuffing - Kosher Thanksgiving Holiday RecipeMeanwhile, spread challah bread cubes in a single layer across two cookie sheets and place them in the oven. Let them lightly toast for 5-6 minutes until the edges start to turn golden. You want to dry out the cubes just slightly; they should still retain some of their sponginess.
  • Challah Chestnut Stuffing - Kosher Thanksgiving Holiday RecipePlace challah bread crumbs in a very large mixing bowl. In a small bowl, beat the eggs. Pour the eggs over the breadcrumbs, stir with a large wooden spoon or spatula. Add the broth mixture and continue to stir till the vegetables and liquid are fully incorporated into the breadcrumbs.
  • Challah Chestnut Stuffing - Kosher Thanksgiving Holiday RecipeYou can use this stuffing to stuff a 10-16 lb. bird, or you can bake the stuffing separately. If stuffing the bird, make sure you follow the appropriate food safety guidelines.
  • To bake the stuffing outside the bird, spread the stuffing in an even layer in a 9x13 baking dish and place uncovered in the oven. Let it cook for 30-45 minutes. Check once halfway through cooking; if the stuffing seems too dry, pour more chicken broth evenly across the top. Let it continue to bake till the top turns golden brown.
  • Challah Chestnut Stuffing - Kosher Thanksgiving Holiday RecipeServe hot. To keep this dish vegetarian, use vegetable broth and butter or margarine.
  • Challah Chestnut Stuffing - Kosher Thanksgiving Holiday Recipe

Comments (32)Post a Comment

  1. Hi..

    Just wanted to let you know I followed your recipe for mushroom barley soup, and it was delish…. I had to adjust a few things, because I only have a 4 quart pot. But, the important thing, was it was really good.. very hearty… I will make it again..

  2. Thanks for this recipe. I love challah (the pumpkin recipe was a winner) and I’ve been looking for a recipe that was not cornmeal based and really don’t care for “sandwich bread” stuffing. I think this texture is what I’m looking for.

  3. Megan, I really love the mushrooms in this recipe, but it will be okay if you leave them out. You might consider adding another half cup of chopped chestnuts to make up for the lost texture of the mushrooms.

    Lois, I’m so happy you enjoyed the soup! My grandma’s name was Lois, seeing your name there brought back fond memories of her. I miss her so much.

    Jo, I’m really happy you liked the pumpkin challah! Hope this is what you’re looking for, I’m not a big fan of the cornmeal stuffing either. The challah is very well suited to stuffing and gives a great texture!

  4. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    I have never used Chestnuts before but this recipe sounds interesting. With Challah for a base how can you go wrong and with some variations I think I can come up with some yummy ideas for stuffing too! Oui!!! thanx :-) Barbara Erdman

  5. Very good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 stars
    Being new to Jewish cooking, I had no idea what schmaltz was. After googling it, I can easily say………making this stuff would be way beyond my capabilities at the moment. SO….can this be purchased, already rendered? Otherwise, this sounds great. I love stuffing and have always made a “moist bread” recipe, very similar to this. This year, I will try using challah bread. I moved to the South about 9yrs ago and still cannot stomach “cornbread stuffing”….it just never appealed to me visually nor in taste. I’m new to your blog, so this will be my “test drive” in trying your Jewish cooking. Trust me, many prayers will be going up for my first attempt at a kosher Thanksgiving meal!

    1. Barbara, chestnuts are really great! They add a wonderful texture and a subtle sweetness to the stuffing. Let me know what variations you come up with, I’d love to hear your spin on it! :)

      D’Vorah, I’m so happy you found the blog! You can buy pre-rendered schmaltz at most kosher grocery markets. If you’re in a smaller town without a Jewish market, you could try your local butcher or gourmet market– sometimes chef stores carry it as well. I’ve put very clear instructions on how to make schmaltz on my blog, just in case you want to give that a go:

      link to theshiksa.com

      If all else fails, you can use a good quality non-dairy butter substitute like Earth Balance. Best of luck to you!

  6. Recipe sounds just what I was looking for. Will leave out the carrots for family preferences, but will increase chestnuts as you suggest, for texture. Another alternative to schmaltz would be Nyafat (which unfortunately is not made anymore) but you could probably find vegetable fat at natural foods’ markets. Thanks for the recipe!

  7. I love challah stuffing recipes, about a month before thanksgiving I cube all my leftover challah after Shabbat and put it in the freezer and by the time Thanksgiving comes I have what I need, it is the perfect solution to not wast challah. Even if my chllah does not come out good one week, it works well in the stuffing. I don’t use the shmaltz though, still can’t stomach that and with my Dietitian training I don’t think I ever will. Oil works well if you want more fat in it but still keep it healthy.

  8. Sandi, I have heard of Nyafat but I don’t think they make it anymore… not exactly sure why. It’s a great idea! I think I read somewhere that it was mildly toxic, but I could be wrong. Veggie oil can certainly be substituted. Enjoy the recipe!

    Joyofkosher, great idea about freezing the leftover challah. Of course you can use olive oil or some other type of oil for health reasons. Schmaltz is an occasional treat in our household, and we used it sparingly in our cooking. I consider the holidays an opportunity to indulge… I eat very healthy most of the time, so Thanksgiving is a great chance for me to enjoy my schmaltz. Feel free to modify the recipe to suit your tastes! ;)

  9. I was looking for my dad’s chestnut stuffing recipe and this is it plus mushrooms! I’ve got too many mushroom-haters in my family to leave them in, but I’m glad to have found my dad’s recipe almost to the tee! I love to leave in chestnut chunks of varying sizes for texture. Thanks!

  10. Very good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 stars
    My favorite Jewish Food, well it’s a tie between Knishes & Matzo balls! The reason I follow your blog, is because my mom died 20 yrs. ago & she made the most awesome Matzo Balls & Potato Pancakes and I missed having those smells around my house! I also moved 18 yrs. ago from Brooklyn, Ny. and lord knows you can’t get a real Knish in pennsylvania!!! So I found you! & am very happy I did! Yummy! Thank you for sharing with us all!!!

  11. My Thanksgiving stuffing has ciabatta, chestnuts, wild rice and portabella mushrooms with homemade turkey stock. Maybe I should try it with challah this year?

    1. Hi Paula! You know, I’ve found that substituting challah cubes in recipes that call for bread cubes almost always improves the final product. There’s something about the eggy fluffiness of challah that enhances all kinds of dishes. I say give it a try! Your stuffing sounds delicious, by the way. :)

  12. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    I made this stuffing for Thanksgiving dinner and it was delicious. I bought the Challah and precooked chestnuts from Trader Joes. It was moist and very flavorful . The recipe made enough for at least 10 good eaters.
    Thanks

  13. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    Great stuffing. Similar to what I have been making for years. I also like to use a 9 Grain Bread which I dry. Oil instead of schmaltz, no eggs. The packaged chestnuts rock! So much less work, less expensive and you don’t have the heartache of getting moldy ones!

  14. I don’t think I have ever seen peeled chestnuts at our grocery store, much less roasted. Would it work to substitute walnuts or some other kind of nut?

    1. Hi Rella– you can omit the nuts, or you can try substituting pecans if you like. The texture and flavor will be different but still tasty. Walnuts would probably work too. Both subs would add some crunch to the stuffing, which might be nice.

  15. Thanks for the recipe will make it for sure. Just small question, I have a small gathering. Can I bake Turkey breast on top of stuffing?

    1. Hi Rachel– you probably could, but I’ve never tried it before myself so I don’t know how to advise you with regards to method. My only concern would be the the bread crumbs might soak up some of the moisture from the breast, which already tends to be somewhat dry. Sorry I can’t be of more help!

  16. Hi Tory,
    I am planning to use this stuffing recipe this year for Thanksgiving and I have a few questions: Which of the Earth Balance margarine products would be best to substitute for the schmaltz: the vegan buttery sticks, the soy-free sticks, or the shortening, which also comes in stick form? Would it hurt the flavor if I use half low sodium/half regular chicken broth? I had planned to pick up the challah the day I will be making the stuffing. Would it be better to use several days old challah? Can I make this stuffing the day before Thanksgiving and heat it up to serve? And, finally, if the goal in this or say a sweet potato recipe is to not use egg yolks due to dietary restrictions, can I use only egg whites, and, if so, would I need to increase the number of egg whites? Thanks in advance, Tori!

    1. Hi Marcia! My favorite non-hydrogenated margarine is Earth Balance organic buttery spread (in tub not sticks). For stick form, the vegan buttery sticks work well too. It won’t hurt to use low sodium broth, it will just make it less salty. :) No worries on using fresh challah, the toasting of the challah cubes will remove the moisture so they’ll soak up all of that great stuffing flavor (of course if you wanted to use stale challah you could do that too). I have never made this a day ahead, I would worry that it might dry out when being reheated, so I wouldn’t recommend it. If you try it anyway, make sure to have extra low sodium broth on hand to rehydrate the stuffing as needed. As for eggs, this question really varies greatly depending on the recipe you’re making. In general you would have to substitute more egg whites, but it won’t always work because the yolks add richness, thickness and structure to certain dishes that egg whites just can’t replicate. If you’re trying it here, I would cut the eggs in half (down to 2) and use an egg replacement like Egg Beaters for the other 2 eggs (check the package to see how much you’d substitute for the equivalent). You might even be fine to replace all of the eggs with Egg Beaters, but I worry that the richness and flavor might suffer. If you try it let me know how it works. Good luck, enjoy!

  17. This sounds like what I was looking for, but my question is can I use poultry seasoning for the herbs? and if so, and then how much would I use and would I only need to use that? Nothing else additional? Please email me directly.I don’t check back on sites to see additional comments very often. Thanks so much.

    1. Hi Denise, as far as using a standard poultry seasoning blend, I’m not quite sure how much you would use. If you’re having difficulty finding fresh herbs, those can be replace with dried herbs, which can be found in the spice section of most supermarkets. Use half the amount of dried herbs to substitute for fresh (example– if it calls for 2 tsp of sage, use 1 tsp dried sage).

  18. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    Hi Tori,
    I made this recipe the day before Thanksgiving, baked it for 30 minutes on Wednesday and then topped it with a little more broth before reheating. It was a huge hit! I ended up using half low sodium/half regular broth which gave it a nice flavor without causing it to be too salty. And I did not end up making any substitutions for the eggs. Thank you again for your wonderful recipes and your assistance when needed.

  19. I tried baking my first challah with your recipe and was inspired to make this chestnut challah recipe as well and it was a big hit. Love your site.

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