I love chestnuts – just plain roasted, in bread sausage stuffing, with red cabbage, soup – you name it, I love them. But I despise the kind in jars and I hate the hassle of peeling them. Those pesky inner skins never seem to want to come clean and of course, there is that little problem of spending way too long with a paring knife to make that cross.
Well, I have discovered the fool proof way to cut the chestnuts, plus the foolproof method to peel them.
To cut the chestnuts purchase the Jasco Chestnutter®. This really works. I have no financial relationship with this company so my endorsement is just based on personal experience.
Now once you have cut the chestnuts, I use a trick that was published in the LA Times, Dec 17, 1995. It is also in Verge’s book Vegetables in the French Manner.
Chestnuts to peel
Preheat oven to 550 (my oven only goes to 525, but it still works) for at least 30 minutes.
Score the chestnuts with your Jasco Chestnutter® and roast them on a baking sheet at 550 for 5 minutes. Check them to be sure they are not burning. If you need to roast them for a minute or two more to be sure they are open, be very careful they don’t burn.
Remove the chestnuts from the oven and immediately cover them with a towel that has been soaked in ice water and wrung out. Let them steam for a minute or so under the cold towel – don’t let them cool too much.
DO NOT DO TOO MANY CHESTNUTS AT ONCE – for 3 pounds of chestnuts we did them in 4 batches. While we peeled one batch, the second batch was in the oven.
Enjoy and Happy Holidays.
This is a P.S. to this post. There is a huge advantage to being fortunate enough to have wonderful chefs as friends. I sent out a SOS to one of them re freezing chestnuts. He came up with the perfect solution and one that decreases the stress during the holidays. Shell the chestnuts using the above procedure. The chestnuts will still be hard. I don’t have a cry-o-vac machine, but I took the peeled chestnuts to my local market, went to the meat department and asked if they had a cry-o-vac machine. They did and now I have chestnuts in the freezer that are now in cry-o-vac.
When you are ready to use the chestnuts, defrost and cook according to the recipe you are using until crumbly for stuffing. This recipe is ONLY for shelling. They are hard and not ready to eat using this method! My suggestion is to boil them in stock until soft and crumbly.