Chestnut

Chestnut

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From
Encyclopedia of Food and Cookery

The edible nut is available fresh in winter, and also in tins (whole or puréed) and dried (soak overnight in water, then use as fresh). The kernel is sweet and slightly floury. Chestnuts roasted in the shell are a traditional cold-weather snack; chestnut kernels may be simmered in stock and served as a vegetable or chopped for stuffings; sweetened chestnut purée makes the Italian dessert Monte Bianco (or French Mont Blanc). Marrons glacés (glazed chestnuts) are luxurious sweetmeats, served in paper cases or used to decorate cakes.

To shell chestnuts: With a small, sharp knife, cut gashes in the shape of a cross on flat side of brown outer shell. Put nuts in a pan of cold water, bring quickly to the boil and boil for 1 minute. Turn off heat. Remove one nut at a time, peel off shell and rub off inner skin. Any nut which resists peeling may be returned to the hot water for a few minutes.

To roast chestnuts: Cut a cross in outer shells as described above. Place in a pan with an ovenproof handle. Add 1 tablespoon oil for each 500 g nuts. Shake over moderate heat until sizzling, then place in a preheated moderate oven for about 30 minutes, after which shells and skins will come off easily.

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