Chestnuts are not for the impatient. Those who want dinner in 15 minutes will need to find an alternative and I can’t quite think what would capture the chestnut’s mealy, nutty carb-y texture and also be ready in less time than it takes to drink the evening’s first glass of wine.
You need to cook them before you peel them and before you peel them you need to score them. Cut a cross on the flat side of the nut with the tip of a sharp knife. After scoring, either boil them for 5 minutes or bake for half an hour. Then let them cool enough so that you don’t burn your fingers but not so long that the skin is cold because that makes it hard to remove. Peel off both the outer shell, and the inner skin (which is called the pellicle.) Now you can eat them – and you can also see why some people only go with the pureed, bottled version.
Roast chestnut and pumpkin salad
This recipe is by Steve Manfredi for Chestnuts Australia. (The pic is from Chestnuts Australia too.) Toss boiled chestnuts, cubes of pumpkin and a handful of sage leaves in a little olive oil, salt and pepper then roast in a moderate oven for half an hour. Let cool a little, then slice the chestnuts, and plate up with dobs of fresh ricotta and the crunchy sage leaves and a few toasted sesame seeds scattered on top.
Roast chicken and chestnuts
I never both with stuffing when I roast a chook, but I do like chestnuts – a traditional stuffee – eaten with chicken. Simply add boiled, peeled chestnuts to a roasting pan of other vegetables (sweet potato, parsnip, Jerusalem artichoke etc) and cook for half an hour or so.
This is one for the impatient sweet tooths. No peeling required. Buy a jar of chestnut purée. Slather some on a slice of good white bread, top with another slice. Butter both sides and cook in a jaffle maker. When crisp on the outside, sprinkle with powdered sugar. (Don’t burn your tongue in your haste to get at this beauty!)