December is particularly celebratory for me because my birthday kicks off the season. Cozily couched between Thanksgiving and Christmas (and often coinciding with Hanukkah), it makes for a month of endless holiday partying – which means that I’m often spent by the time NYE rolls around. But not yet! This weekend I’ll be hosting a wintry birthday bash, and preparing lots of niblets for my friends to snack on.
Being enamored with chestnuts right now, I wanted to incorporate them into a simple hors d’oeuvre and became really fixated on the idea of a spread. Their sweet flavor and starchy texture are balanced by the piquant creaminess of the goat cheese and the earthy qualities of the mushrooms. They’re boosted by some fresh thyme and a splash of dry Sherry. And they’re much healthier than traditional pate – something I doubt anyone will object to this time of year.
MUSHROOM + CHESTNUT PATE WITH GOAT CHEESE
16 ounces cremini mushrooms, stems removed, chopped
1 cup Roasted Chestnuts, chopped
1 cup diced onion
1/3 cup diced shallot
4 ounces goat cheese
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon fresh, chopped thyme (plus more for garnish)
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons dry Sherry
sea salt + fresh black pepper
fresh flatleaf parsley for garnish
Warm a large skillet over medium-low flame. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil. When warmed, add the onions and shallots. Stir occasionally, making sure to not let the shallots burn, for about three minutes. Add the garlic and saute for another minute, also being careful to not let the garlic burn.
Stir in the mushrooms and saute for another five minutes. Add the Sherry and thyme and season generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
When the Sherry has mostly cooked off, add the goat cheese and stir just a little to soften the cheese. Fold in the chestnuts. Remove from heat.
Spoon the mixture into a food processor, and add 1-2 tablespoons olive oil, as needed. Puree until chunky-smooth. Taste to see if more salt or pepper are needed.
Serve atop crostini or on crackers. Garnish with freshly ground black pepper, fresh thyme and parsley.
You can make this in advance – the flavors will improve if left to sit overnight. Refrigerate for up to four days.