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This stuffing was a favorite of President Franklin D. and Eleanor Roosevelt

Fit for a president

This stuffing was a favorite of President Franklin D. and Eleanor Roosevelt; they ate it at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Rich in butter, it joined a decadent holiday lineup that, in addition to turkey, included oyster stew, browned sausages, Kentucky ham and ice cream.

You can certainly roast your own chestnuts for this dish, but we bought 14.5-ounce jars of already cooked, peeled nuts.

FDR’s Chestnut Stuffing

43 to 48 ounces cooked, peeled chestnuts

salt

2 tablespoons bacon fat (may substitute unsalted butter)

1∕4 cup chopped onion

1∕4 cup chopped celery

12 tablespoons unsalted butter

6 ounces stale bread (no crusts), cut or torn into 1-inch pieces (4 cups)

grated zest and juice of
1 medium lemon

1∕4 cup chopped parsley

1∕4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

freshly ground black pepper

1∕2 cup homemade or no-salt-added turkey or chicken broth, or more as needed

Boil the chestnuts in salted water to cover until they are tender, about 10 minutes. Drain them in a colander, then transfer to a large mixing bowl and use a fork to break them up into smaller chunks.

Melt the bacon fat in a large skillet over medium heat. When the fat is hot, add the onion and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, 6 or 7 minutes. Add to the chestnuts in the bowl.

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook until the butter begins to turn a light golden brown and becomes fragrant, watching carefully to make sure it does not burn. Add the bread and cook, stirring, for several minutes, until the bread is evenly coated with the butter. Add to the chestnut mixture, along, lemon zest and juice, parsley and nutmeg. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and stir to combine. If the stuffing seems dry or if you will not be cooking it in the turkey, stir in the broth as needed.

Either stuff the turkey with the dressing, or transfer it to a 9-by-13-inch casserole dish, cover with aluminum foil and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until heated through. For a crisp top, remove the foil during the last 10 minutes of baking.

Makes 12 servings.

Adapted from an article in the Pittsburgh Press in 1933

The Washington Post

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