Grab a good ol' free-range chook and drown it in this rich, creamy chestnut sauce, a speciality from the Balearic islands of Spain.






Skill level

Average: 5 (1 vote)


  • 800 g (1 lb 12 oz) fresh chestnuts
  • 60 g (2 oz) butter
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1.6 kg (3½ lb) chicken, chopped into 10 pieces (ask your butcher to do this for you)
  • 1 medium leek, white part only, thinly sliced
  • sea salt flakes
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced (or use young garlic shoots if you can get them)
  • 2 thyme sprigs, plus thyme leaves to serve
  • 60 ml (2 fl oz/¼ cup) dry sherry
  • 2 litres (2 qts) chicken stock, heated to a simmer
  • 150 ml (5 fl oz) pouring (single/light) cream
  • ¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • freshly ground black pepper

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) fan-forced.
  2. Using a small serrated knife, score the top of each chestnut with a cross. Wrap the chestnuts in foil and transfer to a wire rack set over a roasting tin and roast for 20–25 minutes, until they begin to split open.
  3. Transfer the chestnuts to a large heatproof bowl and cover with plastic wrap for 10 minutes to steam and sweat. Peel the chestnuts and set two or three aside for garnish. Discard the shells.
  4. Heat the butter and half the oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over medium–high heat. Add the chicken and sear each side for 4–6 minutes, until golden. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
  5. In the same pan, add the leek and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, for 4–6 minutes, until softened. Stir through the garlic and thyme and cook for 2 minutes, then add the sherry and simmer until evaporated. Add the peeled chestnuts and stir to coat in the sauce, then pour in the chicken stock. Increase the heat to high and simmer for 20 minutes or until the liquid has reduced by one-third. Reduce the heat to low, remove the thyme sprigs, then carefully blend the mixture using a hand-held blender. Return the chicken to the pan and simmer for a further 20–25 minutes or longer for a thicker sauce.
  6. Stir through the cream and nutmeg and season with salt and pepper. Serve with the thyme leaves and reserved chestnuts crumbled on top.


Recipes and images from Islas: Food of the Spanish Islands by Emma Warren, Smith Street Books, RRP $49.99