Roasting Chestnuts – Orlaith Murphy

Castanea sativa, the sweet chestnut, Spanish chestnut or just plain old chestnut (but not to be confused with Horse chestnut) is ready to harvest about now!  And after all the wind recently your job will be even easier.  This bountiful and delicious nut is well worth the effort to harvest and roast so don’t delay.

There are many way to process the nut but having tried a few this is my favourite.

Heat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. So to start put each chestnut flat-side down on a chopping board. With the greatest of care hold the chestnut and, using a sharp knife, cut a cross in the top. Make sure you cut through the shell but not the nut inside. Takes time to master this as the shell is tough and I have found that a small sharp kitchen knife works best.

Put the nuts in to a pot of water and bring to the boil for about 5 minute.  Then drain and tip them onto a baking sheet or into a roasting tin and arrange them cut-side up. Roast for 30 mins. The cuts should open up and the shell will start to peel back.

Leave the nuts in the tin to cool down to warm – they will be very hot inside. I put a tea towel over them while they cool to trap the steam and make them easier to peel.

After a few minutes you can start to  peel them, most recipes will want you may want to remove the inner, slightly fluffy, membrane as well. If the membrane is difficult to get off (it shouldn’t be if you steam them as they cool), you can soak the nuts in boiling water for a minute to loosen. Drain and peel.

I eat them as they are or to preseve for later use I make crème de marrons  click here for a recipe

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