Recipe: Make Chef Zachary Baker’s Chestnut Stuffing at Home

The chef from Ca’Lucchenzo (slated to open in the former Juniper 61 space by the end of this year) shares his recipe for a nutty Thanksgiving staple.

Restaurateurs Sarah and Zak Baker know how to do Thanksgiving. Get the Baker recipe for a delectable side you can serve at your own Thanksgiving table.


  • 4 T butter
  • ¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 cup yellow onion, diced (1 small)
  • ½ cup celery, diced (2 stalks)
  • ½ cup carrot, diced (2 small)
  • 1 cup mushrooms, sliced (5 medium)
  • 1 tsp rosemary
  • 1 T sage
  • 1 lb chestnuts, roasted/peeled* (see note below)
  • 1 cup marsala, dry
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • ½ cup milk, whole
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • ¼ cup Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
  • 6 cups bread cubes, toasted** (see note below)
  • 1½ tsp salt
  • 5 grinds black pepper


1) In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter with the olive oil and add the garlic, onion, celery, carrot and mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally until translucent and cooked through, about 10 minutes.

2) Add the rosemary, sage and chestnuts and continue cooking for another three minutes until herbs are fragrant.

3) Add the Marsala wine and bring to a simmer for about two minutes to cook off the alcohol, then add the chicken stock.

4) Bring the pan back to a simmer and cook for about 15 minutes until the chestnuts are tender and starting to break apart.

5) Remove from heat and let cool at room temperature for about an hour until not hot but still slightly warm.

6) Add the milk, the two beaten eggs and the grated Parmigiano to the chestnut ragu and mix until combined.

7) Pour this mixture over the toasted bread cubes and let stand at room temp for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes until most of the liquid is absorbed into the bread.

8) Put the mixture in a buttered baking dish, cover/wrap and refrigerate overnight or a minimum 4 hours.

9) To cook, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cover the stuffing pan with foil and wrap tightly around the edges to hold in the steam and cook for one hour.

10) Remove the foil and return the pan back to the oven and turn the heat up to 425 degrees and cook another 30 minutes until evenly browned and crusty.

11) Let the stuffing rest at room temperature about 15 minutes.

12) Add salt and pepper and serve.


*Roasted Chestnuts

To roast chestnuts, preheat an oven to 400 degrees.

Cut a shallow “X” through the outer layer of each chestnut’s shell, place in a roasting pan and roast in the oven until the skins begin to open and the inside is tender, about 30 minutes. Then remove the tough outer and thin inner skin before eating or using in a recipe.

To get one pound of roasted chestnuts, start with a pound and a half to account for the loss of weight after peeling the shells.

**Bread for Stuffings

This recipe calls for toasted bread cubes, but if you have cubes of bread that are already dried out completely, those will be fine to use as well.

If you don’t have dry bread around, you can cut about half a larger loaf of crusty bread (I used a half loaf of amazing French bread from Rocket Baby), spread it out on a sheet pan and toast the bread in a 300 degree oven for about 20 minutes.

Pull it out and let it cool on the pan and you’ll have perfectly crispy bread cubes for your stuffing recipes.

Extra Ideas

If you were to just stop this recipe after you simmer the chestnuts and chicken stock, omitting all the eggs, milk, bread and Parmigiano, you would have a chestnut ragu/stew that would be great in risotto, on gnocchi or on creamy polenta. You could even puree it a bit to make it into a seasonal soup.

“Chestnut Stuffing recipe” appears in the November 2018 issue of Milwaukee Magazine.

Buy a copy at or find the October issue on newsstands, starting Oct. 29.

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Ann Christenson has covered dining for Milwaukee Magazine since 1997. She was raised on a diet of casseroles that started with a pound of ground beef and a can of Campbell's soup. Feel free to share any casserole recipes with her.