Sauteed Chestnuts Onions and Bacon
Sauteed Chestnuts Onions and Bacon

Roasted chestnuts sautéed with pearl onions and bacon for a festive holiday side dish.

I know in two bites if a holiday side dish is truly spectacular. Because I have an almost uncontrollable urge to knock the turkey or ham off the table, pull the bowl towards me, dip my face in and only take a breath when I’m done.

Growing up, the object of my lust was my grandmother’s recheio com chouriço – a succulent bread filling studded with savory bits of my aunt’s homemade sausage; It was one of the few Portuguese dishes I would eat.

After living in Portugal for most of 2007 and researching my book The New Portuguese Table, I discovered this side dish that is threatening to wreak havoc at our Christmas dinner this year. It’s a mixture of chestnuts and large pearl onions sautéed in it – what else? the fat of the year, if not of the century – bacon roast.

And finally, crispy-chewy, salty-sweet chunks of bacon are thrown in for good measure. Chestnuts are an important crop in Portugal, where you can find the nut in almost everything from appetizers to main courses and desserts.

Confession (and please don’t tell this story in your New Year’s Weight Watchers meetings): Sometimes I’ll make a batch that takes a full 20 minutes or so and eat it in front of the TV while I watch. Dancing with the Stars.” When I want to feel classy and sophisticated, I use a cloth napkin and watch Castle.

Sautéed chestnuts, onions and bacon

preparation time
5 minutes

cooking time
25 minutes

total time
30 minutes

up to 8 servings

Castanhas Salteadas with Toucinho Entremeado


  • 1/2 pound thick-cut bacon or pancetta, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch strips

  • 1 pound pearl onions, barely 1 inch in diameter

  • 1 pound peeled, roasted chestnuts (vacuum packed*, no sugar* in the jar or freshly roasted)

  • 2 tablespoons of honey

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, for garnish

  • *Vacuum packed or in jars are preferable freshly roasted.


  1. Cook bacon:

    In a large skillet, cook the bacon over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until the fat is drained and the pieces of meat are crisp, about 12 minutes. Place on kitchen paper to drain.

  2. Blanch and peel onions:

    Meanwhile, fill a bowl with ice and water and set aside. Bring a medium-sized saucepan with water to a boil. Add the onions and blanch for 30 seconds. Scoop them out with a slotted spoon and place them in the ice water. To peel the onions, cut off the top and remove the papery outer layers. Set the onions aside.

  3. Sauté onions in bacon fat:

    Increase heat under skillet to medium, add onions and sauté bacon grease, stirring occasionally, until browned and cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes.

  4. Add chestnuts, bacon, honey:

    Add the chestnuts, cooked bacon, and honey and toss to heat, being careful not to break the nuts – they’re fragile.

    Season with salt and plenty of pepper, then place in a decorated bowl. Sprinkle with the parsley.

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Hello everybody, Even if you're limited on time and money, I believe you can prepare wonderful food with everyday products. All you have to do is cook cleverly and creatively!