Preparation time: 30-40 minutes
Cooking time: 1 1/2 hours + 30 minutes
It's once again time for the year-end meeting of three seasonal products that present a rich harmony of flavours and colours. Chestnut soup was once very common in France. I first enriched it with broth from a pheasant hen. The result, though all right, was too discreet. Chestnuts, in fact, always need something to enliven them: the chestnut dessert, charlotte aux marrons, exists because of vanilla and rum, while boiled chestnuts need to have a little cut made in them before being cooked with fig leaves and anise.
I then tried the velouté with a little green Ceylon cardamom added at the last minute (cardamom has been a part of French cuisine since the crusades and is used, among other things, to give a nice flavour and freshness to pâtés.) A stay in Piedmont had introduced me to the different varieties of white truffles from Alba, and the union came together in my head. When I returned, I immediately put together this triple alliance.
The day before
- Bone the pheasant wings and remove the skin; skin the breasts and remove them..
- Remove the legs from the carcass and set them aside.
- Crush the juniper berries, add a few good gratings of nutmeg, and combine with the Chartreuse and mustard. Brush this mixture onto the pheasant suprêmes (breast and wing), season with salt and pepper and set aside in the refrigerator.
- Peel all the vegetables for the aromatic garnish.
- Roughly crush the legs as well as the carcass and giblets. Sear them in a large pan or braising pot with a knob of butter (about 45 g or 3 tbsp.) Degrease the pan and add the aromatic vegetables (left whole).
- Add water just to the top of the pheasant and vegetables and cook covered for 1 1/2 hours over low heat. Skim and degrease the broth occasionally.
- Make a cut in each chestnut and cook them for 20 minutes in salted water flavoured with the green anise seeds. Refresh in cold water and peel completely.
The day of the meal
- Steam the pheasant suprêmes in a couscous cooker for about 20 minutes.
- Heat some soup plates or bowls or a tureen in a warm oven.
- Crush the cardamom pod.
- In a blender, purée half of the chestnuts with the pheasant stock and the 100 ml cream, heat and cook for 10 minutes over low heat. Gradually whisk in the remaining cold butter (about 80 g or 6 tbsp.) Correct the seasoning with salt and pepper and add a pinch of the ground cardamom.
- Thinly slice the remaining chestnuts and the pheasant breast, arrange them in the bottom of the tureen or soup bowls, and pour the hot chestnut soup over top. Garnish the top of the soup with little dollops of the whipped cream. Then, at the table, grate some white Piedmont truffle generously over the surface. Decorate with a few sprigs of chervil.
Even if you're not racked with thirst as you have this rather filling soup, pour an aged Alsatian Riesling with rich honey and beeswax flavours that will go well with the chestnuts, as well as a nice mineral note that is a good partner for the truffle.
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