I’ve only seen chestnuts in grocery stores during December. I’ve eaten them roasted, but the recipes below show many other ways to cook them.
INFORMATION BELOW FROM 1800s COOKBOOKS:
Chestnuts should always be roasted or boiled before they are eaten.
SHELL AND BLANCH CHESTNUTS – BOIL
Boil whole chestnuts rapidly for ten minutes. Leave in the hot water, shell, and remove the brown covering while warm.
SHELL AND BLANCH CHESTNUTS – ROAST
Score* each nut, and put into a frying-pan with a teaspoon of butter for each pint of nuts. Shake the pan over the fire until the butter is melted, then set in the oven five minutes. With a sharp knife, remove the shells and skins together.
* score – Make small incisions at right angles at the point of the chestnut.
CREAM OF CHESTNUTS
Shell and blanch a pint of large French chestnuts. Put them in a saucepan and almost cover them with boiling water and cook until tender. Before they are quite done, add a little salt. When done, remove from the fire and rub through a sieve with the water they were boiled in. Melt a generous heaping tablespoon of butter with an even tablespoon of flour, and add to it by degrees a pint of boiling milk. Let it cook until thick, then stir in salt and pepper to taste. Let it come to a boil and serve.
Shell one pint of large chestnuts. Pour on boiling water and remove the inner skin. Boil in salted water or stock until soft. Mash fine and mix with them one cup of fine rolled crackers. Season with one teaspoon salt, one salt spoon pepper, and one teaspoon chopped parsley. Moisten with one-third cup melted butter. This stuffing is especially nice for quail.
Put some chestnuts on the fire in cold water, boil five minutes, take them out, and while hot, strip them of their outer and inner skins. Put them in a big saucepan containing a syrup of the proportion of one-half pound sugar to one quart water and one teaspoon butter. When they come to the boiling point, remove to the back of the stove. Use a large quantity of the syrup to the quantity of chestnuts. This syrup should diminish very slowly. When it has become very thick, take out the chestnuts and drain them, then add a little vanilla to the syrup. Now pour boiling water over the chestnuts to remove the syrup which covers them. Dry them well. Beat the thick syrup until it is opaque, then roll the dry chestnuts in it. Remove with a skimmer and let them dry on a sieve.
Use large imported chestnuts, remove the shells and boil the nuts. The brown skin can then be easily removed with a penknife. Cover with cold water and let them cook gently until tender; when a large needle can be run through them easily. Drain and drop them in cold water. After two hours, drain again and put them in a bowl. Cover them with a rich syrup that has been skimmed and boiled until clear. It must be boiling when poured over the chestnuts. Cover the bowl with a heavy paper and let it stand for twelve hours. Drain off the syrup, bring it to the boiling point and turn it over the chestnuts again and put away for another twelve hours. Repeat this process three times, then drain the syrup off and the chestnuts are ready for use. They are very nice but troublesome to prepare.
Boil blanched, fresh or dried chestnuts until tender (fresh 15 minutes, dried, 3 hours). When almost tender, add sugar or honey to the water and when the liquid is nearly boiled away, flavor with vanilla. Finish in slow oven* and serve as a confection.
* slow oven – a slow oven is about 200-300 degrees fahrenheit; you could hold your hand in the oven about 60 seconds without burning.
Take forty chestnuts and roast or boil them over a slow fire. Remove the shells carefully, put them in a bowl, and pour over them one-half glass of rum and three tablespoons powdered sugar. Set fire to the rum and baste the chestnuts constantly as long as the rum will burn, turning the chestnuts about so they will absorb the rum and become colored.
Boil fifty sound chestnuts, take them out of the shells, and reject all imperfect ones. Keep the large pieces aside. Pound the crumbs and most broken pieces with an ounce of butter till very smooth. Then mix in a small cup of cream, two ounces of butter, and one ounce of powdered sugar. Put the whole into a double boiler, and stir in the beaten yolks of six eggs. Let the mixture set. When cool, make it into balls. In the center of each ball, put a piece of the chestnut you have laid aside, dip the balls in fine cracker meal and eggs, and fry a very pale yellow. Serve with sifted sugar.
Boil one pound chestnuts for half an hour. Shell, and mash well with a fork. Add one tablespoon chopped parsley. Dissolve one tablespoon corn flour in one tablespoon water. Use as much of this as required to moisten the chestnut, and mix it to a stiff paste. Shape into firm, round, rather flat rissoles. Roll in white flour, and fry in deep oil or fat to a golden brown color. Serve with parsley or tomato sauce. For those who take eggs, the rissoles may be moistened and bound with a beaten egg instead of the cornflour and water. They may also be rolled in egg and bread-crumbs after flouring.
Boil one pound chestnuts in one and one-half pints water for half an hour. In the meantime, dissolve one ounce butter in a stewpan. Then fry in it one onion and one small turnip sliced. Add one-half teaspoon salt, six peppercorns, and a very small pinch of mixed herbs. Add the chestnuts, after removing the shells and skins. Boil one hour longer. Place one teaspoon cream or the yolk of one egg in a basin, strain the soup on to it, and stir. Then strain it back into the saucepan, re-warm, but do not allow to boil. Pour into a tureen and serve.
Have You Ever Eaten Chestnuts?