One of the best things I have ever eaten is chestnut soup, served to me many years ago at Domaine Chandon winery in Napa, Ca. I thought that I had died and gone to heaven it tasted so delicious: the texture was so hard to identify and so rich. I decided right then it was what I wanted for my last meal if ever I was on death row. (That’s my kind of jail…sending to go orders for chestnut soup).
I tried making it. This was before the internet was available to show me how via youtube or Epicurious. I could not duplicate the richness but still loved the flavor, so I decided to try chestnut stuffing for turkey and have made it often ever since with cornbread, onion, celery and chicken stock. I just increased and replaced nuts in a traditional cornbread stuffing or used The Joy of Cooking recipe. Do not worry- there is no way to use such a tasty ingredient and mess this up… well, maybe if you forgot the cornbread…
Here is how to roast chestnuts. This year it was so warm at night that I had to roast them on my cooktop since it was too warm to start a fire.
First, make sure the chestnuts do not rattle in their shell- that means they are dry and old. Cut a wide X across the flat side. I like to make it wide to make it easier and quicker to get the shell off. Put them in a cast iron pan. When not too hot, I put mine on top of a hot wood stove. It’s great to have a fire going with a pan of them roasting, just like in the song. I’ve read to leave one nut whole and when it pops you know the rest are done but that didn’t work for me. Once the X’s open and the shell is dark or nearly burned all around I believe they are ready. Let them cool then peel off the outer shell and what I call the “liner” of shredded looking insides of the shell to reveal a beige buttery nut. Buy extra because they are irresistible. I have had some very small batches to use for stuffing in past years when I didn't.
Here is a photo of the various stages.
Roasting in the pan, left.
Cooling in my Salt Large Bowl, right.
The shells are in the Indigo Small Bowl, about to be discontinued so buy now!
Finished nuts on the cutting board, ready for chopping.
Enjoy eating and cooking with your chestnuts!