Want to give cooking chestnuts a try? Here in France, roasting chestnuts is a common activity in the fall when the chestnut harvest appears. If you are lucky enough to find fresh chestnuts in the grocery store, there are a number of different methods you can use to cook them.
Note: Chestnuts tend to rot and get worms, so if you do find fresh chestnuts be sure to use them quickly. Fresh uncooked chestnuts should feel heavy in your hand and when you shake them you shouldn't hear the nut rattling around inside.
Before heating them, it is very important to make a slit in each chestnut with a sharp knife, otherwise they will explode when you are cooking them. The kids might think this is fun, but it also promises to be dangerous and messy. Cut an X in the side of each chestnut, making sure you cut all the way through to the meat.
For cooking chestnuts over an open fire it is best to have a special roasting pan that has a long handle and holes in the bottom. Slit the chestnuts and place them in one layer in the pan. Place the roaster on a low fire, shaking occasionally. The chestnuts will open up and the insides will be toasty brown when they are done after about 20 minutes.
Alternatively you can try a popcorn popper that goes on the fireplace as well. If you use one of these, which has a lid, you could skip slitting the chestnuts and enjoy the popping sound as they open.
Roasting chestnuts in the oven works just as well and requires no special equipment.
You can also try cooking chestnuts simply by boiling them. This is a good method if you are planning on making puree from the chestnuts or using them in another recipe.
One pound of quality fresh unshelled chestnuts yields about two cups of shelled.
Can't get enough of the tasty chestnut? Here are some other ways to enjoy chestnuts year round:
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