Sunday, January 2, 2011
I have fond memories of watching Dad buy chestnuts from vendors on the streets of New York City at Christmas. They had such a distinctive aroma, and seemed to warm the corners where the vendors stood. In later years, Dad would make them for us at home as a special treat.
Select chestnuts that are firm and blemish free. The best chestnuts I've eaten, were purchased at the the Italian market, Pennsylvania Macaroni, in Pittsburgh's culinary Strip District. Using a serrated knife, score an "X" across the rounded surface of each chestnut (cutting into the nutmeat slightly).
Soak in clean, cold water for at least thirty minutes (the water seeps beneath the shell and steams the nutmeat). Drain water, and place scored-side-up, on a foil-lined cookie sheet. Roast in a preheated, 350 degree oven for approximately 30 minutes. Check by inserting a toothpick into the nutmeat where you've scored the shell. The toothpick should slip easily into the nutmeat with only slight resistance.
Cool slightly, peel and enjoy!