Years ago my mom and I traveled to England together for a girls vacation and while there among other things, we discovered roasted chestnuts. These delicious little gems sold by street vendors were roasted right there on the street and served up in little paper cones. They were hot, slightly sweet and nutty. Unlike anything I had ever eaten but forever etched in my memory bank. Since then I have enjoyed them again at different Victorian holiday events in our area.
A few days before my foot surgery hubby Tom and I were in Whole Foods and came across a bag of chestnuts in the produce department that quickly worked their way into my grocery cart. I didn’t know the first thing about how to prepare them so I set about investigating just that. There are differing opinions on how to prep and prepare chestnuts. After much research and watching videos about said task I chose my method.
One of the most important things I learned is that the chestnuts must be scored before cooking or they will explode and create a huge mess. Give them a quick rinse and dry them with a kitchen towel. Hold each chestnut between your thumb and finger with the pointy end towards the thumb. Place on a cutting board and using a serrated bread knife with a gentle sawing motion score across half the chestnut, making sure to cut down completely through the tough exterior without going to far into the nut.
After the first couple cuttings you’ll get the hang of it. After making the cut apply a little pressure to check and make sure you cut went all the way through and you can see the chestnut meat. Toss the cut chestnuts into a saucepan, cover with cold water add a pinch of salt . Bring to a simmer. Remove from heat, pour off the water and place on a rimmed baking sheet. Place into a preheated 425 degree oven for 15 minutes.
When you remove them from the oven the good ones will have started to split open. Wrap them up in a kitchen towel and let them steam for about 10 -15 minutes to make them easier to peel.
Peel while still warm. Some of them peel quite easily and others are rather difficult and require the help of a sharp paring knife. Sadly a few weren’t any good inside. Serve as an appetizer or snack this holiday season. Chop a few and add them to your stuffing mix or chop a few and mix with some roasted Brussels sprouts. They have a softer texture than a hard nut, they are more starchy tasting, somewhat similar to a walnut. High in vitamin C and low fat since they have a high water content. They can be eaten roasted, made into a soup,pureed into a chestnut cream or even ground into a flour and used for pastries.
1 pound chestnuts in the shell
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Preparing chestnuts for roasting; Give the chestnuts a quick rinse under cold water and dry them with a kitchen towel. Hold each chestnut between your thumb and finger with the pointy end towards the thumb. Place on a cutting board and using a serrated bread knife with a gentle sawing motion score across half the chestnut, making sure to cut down completely through the tough exterior.
Place scored chestnuts into a medium size saucepan, add a pinch of salt and cover with cold water. Place on stove top and bring to a simmer. As soon as it reaches a simmer (little bubbles forming on the surface of the water) remove from heat, drain off water.
Roasting; Place chestnuts on a baking sheet or in a baking pan, place in hot oven for 15 minutes. Remove from oven, pour into the center of a kitchen towel, wrap up and let steam for 15 minutes. Un-wrap and peel off shells. Use a sharp paring knife to remove the more difficult shells.
Eat and enjoy!
Chestnuts cooked 4 ounces: 149 calories, 1.6g fat, 5.7g fiber, 2g protein, 32 g carbs, 31mg sodium, 30mg vitamin c, 811mg potassium