Preparing Chestnuts for Eating
or for Inclusion in Recipes
To peel fresh chestnuts, first cut them in half or cut a slit or "X" through the shell with a knife, then heat them for 5 minutes in boiling water or a in a hot oven (400 degrees F), and remove the shells while the chestnuts are still warm. The inner skin, called the pellicle, can be eaten or removed. Chestnuts require 30-60 minutes cooking time, depending on desired softness. Cooked chestnuts can be pureed in a food processor.
To microwave chestnuts, cut a slit or "X" through the shell (scoring). After scoring, place in a microwave safe dish with a little water, cover and microwave for 2 -2 1/2 minutes. Peel while warm. This is a great way to easily prepare chestnuts for recipes.
Cooking With Chestnuts
Good chestnuts are sweet and tasty. In contrast to other nuts chestnuts are high in carbohydrates and low in fat. From a culinary and nutritional standpoint, chestnuts are more like potatoes or grains. You can eat them fresh or cooked. They make tasty snacks or appetizers. They are used as a vegetable or as a meat garnish, such as in chestnut stuffing and chestnut soup. They can be dried and ground to flour for use in pancakes, muffins and pasta. Chestnut puree is used in ice cream, yogurt, and chestnut-creme filled chocolates.
You can also eat chestnuts as a snack or use chestnuts in many of meals and foods you currently prepare. Below are some ideas.
Chestnut puree or chestnut flour adds the flavor of chestnuts to baked goods. Substitute chestnut flour or puree for some portion (usually less than 50%) of wheat flour, or as a complete substitute for corn meal or oat flour. Chestnut flour weakens the dough, and therefore, must be used sparingly in yeast breads. However, its tender texture and sweet flavor make wonderful pancakes, muffins, and pastries.
Roasted chestnuts make a warm, wonderful and flavorful snack on a brisk autumn day. First make a cut through the shell to prevent bursting. Then spread the nuts in a pan and bake at 375 degrees F (or roast them over charcoal) for 30 min or until the nuts are tender.
Add cooked whole or diced chestnuts with cooking liquid to your favorite stuffing recipe.
Chicken, Vegtables and Chestnuts
Add chestnuts to your favorite recipe for chicken and/or vegetables to add sweetness. They are particularly good in stir fried dishes and chicken stews.
Chestnut Soup Recipe
Melt 1 tbsp. butter in a large pan. Add 1 tbsp. flour and stir until smooth. Add 2 cups of chestnut puree, 2 cups of milk, 6 cups of chicken stock, 1 tbsp. finely chopped onion, 1/4 cup finely chopped celery, salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 20 min. Just before serving stir in 1 egg beaten in 3 tbsp sherry or wine.