Ross Lewis has a reputation for excellence and innovation. As well as holding a Michelin star since 2007, Chapter One has won countless awards. His youthful experiences were enough to inspire him to study Dairy Science but thankfully for the food world, the idea of cooking for a living came to him while working on a student visa in the US. He trained internationally and then transformed part of what was the former Dublin home of George Jameson, the whiskey maker, into Chapter One, a uniquely Irish dining space.
When Weekend asked the affable Corkman to share a dish for our Christmas special, Ross suggested a spiced chestnut soup with Madeira cream.
"This is one of our finest soups and a marriage of two royal ingredients, chestnuts and pheasant," he says. "Folded into these flavours are star anise, fennel, juniper berries and cardamom, giving deep complex notes. The pheasant stock gives a slightly gamier flavour and there is a zing from the tarragon, sage and vinegar. The Madeira cream crowns the flavours."
1 stick of celery, sliced
½ leek, sliced
2 banana shallots, sliced
1 clove garlic, finely sliced
Small sprig each of rosemary, thyme, sage and tarragon
125g butter 50g smoked bacon rind
1 star anise
15 fennel seeds
6 juniper berries
6 cardamom pods
2.5 litres pheasant/chicken stock
600g cooked chestnuts - reserve 4 chestnuts to grate over the finished dish
25g Cabernet sauvignon wine vinegar - good quality red wine or black truffle vinegar will also work
For the Madeira cream:
200ml cream 60ml hazelnut oil 60ml good quality Madeira
4 cooked & peeled chestnuts Handful of dried mushrooms
1. Sweat the celery, leek, shallot, garlic and herbs with the butter and bacon rind until softened.
2. Crush the spices together in a pestle and mortar and then add to the sweated vegetables.
3. Add the pheasant ( or chicken ) stock and bring to the boil, then add the chestnuts and simmer gently for ten minutes.
4. Blitz in a food processor until smooth and pass through a chinois. Finish with the red wine vinegar.
For the Madeira cream:
Lightly whip the cream with the hazelnut oil, the Madeira and a pinch of salt.
Heat but don't boil the soup and pour into heated serving bowls. Spoon on a little of the Madeira cream and then use a mandolin to shave over some of the reserved chestnuts. Finish with a sprinkling of dried mushrooms.