My previous experience of cooking chestnuts had always been very hit and miss, they’d either be burnt to a crisp or raw. Here’s my method which produces pretty good results. Like all jobs that are done properly, it’s all in the preparation and selecting the right produce. Chestnuts can be prepared up to 3 days in advance and then refrigerated until to you need to roast them.
What you’re going to need:
A Pan of hot water
A small serrated knife (I use a steak knife)
Gas powered griddle, BBQ, wood burning stove, fire or an oven.
Tongs (So you don’t burn your fingers)
A chestnut pan (If using a wood burning stove or fire)
1. If you going to buy chestnuts then go for the Chinese variety. They tend to be better quality and large in size.
2. Before cooking the chestnuts you need to cut the shells. There are 2 reasons for this; 1) to stop them exploding when they are roasting 2) It will make them easier to peel once roasted. Take a small serrated knife, I use a steak knife, and cut the shells on the curved side from front to back. Not too deep, just enough to cut or score the outside of the shell.
3. Pop your nuts into a pan of salty water and bring to the boil. Take the pan off the boil and leave for 10 minutes before draining. Boiling them first more or less guarantees that the flesh will be soft inside and not raw.
4. Let the nuts cool and then refrigerate for later use or cook them straight away.
5. There are several ways that you can roast your nuts. I cook them over a gas-powered griddle, you could use a BBQ, wood burning stove, an open fire or alternatively pop them in the oven. When cooking over gas place the nuts with the cut side facing down for around 5 mins minutes, turn over and cook for a further 5 mins. Don’t worry if the shells start to burn as this adds a nice smokey flavour to the chestnuts, not only that but it also makes them easier to peel. If using an oven, place the chestnuts on a baking tray and cook and cook for 10-15 minutes at around 200 degrees C until the shells split open.
6. Let the nuts rest for 5 mins, either pop them in a paper bag or a tea towel. They will then steam under their own heat and make then easier to peel,they will be also be cooler and you won’t burn your fingers.
7. Eat your chestnuts, add salt to taste if required. Enjoy.