Herding Chestnut Trees and Eating Them with Beef

Croatian Entree



1 pound chestnuts
6 cups water
1 large onion
1½ pounds sirloin, tenderloin, or rump
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
½ tablespoon paprika
½ teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup water

Serves 4. Takes 1 hour 20 minutes.


Cut an 1″ wide “x” on both sides of each chestnut. Make the cut deep enough to cut through the shell. (This keeps the chestnut from exploding. This really can happen if you omit this step.) Add chestnuts and 6 cups water to pot. Boil on medium-high heat for 45 minutes or until chestnuts become tender, the chestnut shells start to open and become easy to peel. (This is important. A shell that isn’t easy to peel will take forever.) Remove from heat. Cover with kitchen towel. Let cool for 5 minutes. Peel chestnuts. Discard shells.

While chestnuts cook, dice onion. Cut sirloin into 1″ cubes. Add onion and oil to 2ndt pot. Sauté at medium-high heat for 5 minutes or until onion softens. Stir frequently. Add sirloin cubes, paprika, pepper, and salt. Sauté for 5 minutes or until sirloin cubes brown on all sides. Stir frequently. Add 1 cup water. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until sirloin cubes become tender. Use slotted spoon to add chestnuts to pot with sirloin cubes. Add enough water to cover. Simmer at medium heat for 15 minutes or until chestnuts soften. Stir occasionally.


1) Beef and chestnuts can only be placed next to each after both get cooked, because they tend to fight each other when they are alive. This hostility stems from the one and only beef/chestnut drive. It started in 1898 in Bend, Oregon and was to have ended in the port of New Orleans. Beef and chestnuts were ferociously desired by American troops fighting the Spanish in Cuba. But from the start, the beeves taunted the chestnut trees for their extreme slowness. This was harsh as chestnuts trees were the fasted trees around, due to their tiny feet.

2) Anyway, the chestnut trees took offense at this verbal onslaught and proclaimed they’d go no further. To show their resolve, they evolved their feet to become roots. Nowadays, you need to look for chestnuts in the stationary-nut-tree section of your supermarket. Oh, and there are no more chestnut drives. The days of the chestnutboys are long gone except in movies.

– Paul De Lancey, The Comic Chef, Ph.D.


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