Monday, July 7, 2014
Simple Way to Cook Chestnuts
Simple Way to Cook Chestnuts Lex Loeb Contributor Network . I am a chestnut grower and by many years of experience and trial and error, I have decided that one of the easiest ways to prepare fresh chestnuts is simply to cut them in half instead of piercing them or making an X in the shell. Chestnuts will not explode when boiling them, not in my experience. It is thus possible to boil the nuts and then after cooling them a bit cutting them in half with a sharp knife. This is one method a lot of chestnut lovers are not aware of. It is also possible to cut them in half before boiling them. An advantage of cutting them in half is you can tell in advance that the nuts are not going bad by checking that the nuts are firm and the normal color. Boiling the nuts can make them easy to peal or if you cut them in half first they can pop right out of their shells with the inners skin of the nut easy to peal off. The trick about boiling is to wash off the nuts after removing them from the boiling water because the water turns brown from the tannin in the shells and this can give the nuts a bitter taste, The proper time to boil them is just long enough that they do not become water logged and mushy. It is the same reason you do not cook spaghetti too long. Fortunately for spaghetti the boxes come with directions that tell you the exact number of minutes to cook it, especially the better brands made in Italy or by Italian companies, Chestnuts do not come with such directions and come in different sizes. The way to figure out how long to boil them is to try a couple first and check them out by pealing and tasting them. if the shells and skins do not come off easily they are not ready yet so put them back in the boiling water and try taking them out a bit later to see if they are right and then make your next batch. To boil them in the microwave I find I can just cut them in half and put them face down in some water in a bowl or plate and they are done in 30 seconds to a minute. I used to microwave them in a plastic zip lock bag and find that water immersion works better and makes them easier to peal but they do need rinsing off after pealing and boiling. Another quick and easy method to cook chestnuts by cutting them in half first is to pot them cut face down in oil or butter under the broiler. The trick here is not to take your eyes off of them . When the shells start to burn under the broiler they can just pop off the nut meat making this one of the easiest ways to get the shells and inner skins off. Again you should start with a few and see how it works and how long it takes. It can help to soak the nuts after cutting them in half in water before placing on the broiler and if you use spray on oil you can spray both the pan and the nut shells on the top side. Be careful because the nuts shells can catch fire under the broiler. When you properly piece the nuts and put them in an open fire you can incinerate the skins and shells without scorching the inner nut and every thing just flakes off the nut skin when you do it right. That really means that the shells and skins burn off. Again soaking them in water for a few minutes before putting in the fire or under the broiler may help. Because of the size variation and because of the variations on how ripe the nuts may be (which is called seasoning) trial and error is involved. The trick to cutting the nuts in half with a knife is to place the nuts flat side down and having a knife capable of doing the job. Nuts that roll around when you try to cut them can be a hazard and cause you to cut yourself so pick chestnuts with at least one flat side when you buy them and leave the rounder ones unless you are good with knives. One means of cutting a round nut is find some kind of vice to hold it in rather than your fingers. Caution should be used because the nuts tend to roll when pressure from the knife blade comes down and the knife slips off endangering fingers, There are chestnut cutting tools called Snips from Italy that make it easy to make a a slit in the roundest of nuts. If you can punch the slit first then you can put the knife in to that as your starting point. Under the broiler you know the nuts are ready to come out when the shells start to pop off. The nuts may not be ready yet because the interior of the nuts may not have been cooked enough. wrap the broiled nuts in aluminum foil to keep them warm like you are finishing a baked potato and that usually does the trick after a few extra minutes. Broiling is to sear off the skins and not necessarily to completely roast them. Trial and Error is key. Waste a few nuts seeing what works fastest and best before doing larger batches and you should have success.Chestnuts have the lowest fat of any tree nut. The fat content is next to zero. Chestnuts are gluten free. Chestnuts are one of Man kind's oldest carbohydrate staples. .