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Roasting Chestnuts

I adore chestnuts, but have never had much luck with roasting them at home.

I always seemed to end up with burnt fingers, aching fingernails, and a crumbled nut with glued-on bits of furry skin. I was pretty sure there were two parts to the problem – the chestnuts themselves, and the way I was preparing  them.

A couple of weeks ago, I was convinced to try again with these organic chestnuts from Eveleigh Markets. The seller had insisted that, cooked properly, they would be simple to peel.

I then went onto YouTube and found this fabulous clip by Chef John for About.com…

. . . . .

And you know what?  It worked! And it was incredibly simple.  The skins just fell away…

. . . . .

Here is the process, in a nutshell (ugh..sorry, couldn’t resist)..

1. Preheat the oven to 220C (425F) or 200C (400F) with fan. Have a baking pan ready. Using a breadknife, carefully cut a single long slash across the rounded end of each chestnut. Make sure you cut through both the shell and the inner skin.

2. Drop the chestnuts into a saucepan and cover with cold water. Add a generous pinch of salt, place the pan over a low heat and bring just to a simmer.

3. Drain the chestnuts and tumble them into the baking pan (as Nigella might say).  Bake for 15 minutes.

4. Carefully tip the hot chestnuts into a bowl.  The skins should have split as in the photo below.  Cover the bowl with a folded tea towel and allow the nuts to steam in their own heat for a further 15 minutes.

5. Peel and enjoy!  Out of the entire bowl, I only had four duds which I had to scoop out with a spoon – the rest released from their skins easily and without fuss.

Thanks Chef John! I’m going out to buy more chestnuts now…

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