Anyone know where to get chestnuts in the shell (or roasted)on the westside inexpensively?
I've done it in the past and like Harry Nile, I'll never do it again. I ended up with shards/splinters under every single one of my nails.
I buy the vacuum-packed ones at TJ or sometimes the (much cheaper, but not as good) small bagged ones at Korean markets.
You can find canned or jarred ones at Whole Foods too and at Monsieur Marcel, the French brand Clément Faugier (but at a prohibitive price).
I saw fresh/in the shell Korean one at the Galleria supermarket on Olympic & Western a few weeks ago.
They usually don't hit the markets until November. They'll be all over, Ralph's, Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, Payless Produce on Venice Blvd. and they run about 5.99 a pound, maybe less at the independents.
My husband roasts them every autumn several times a week, once they hit the stores (his favorite snack from childhood in Italy). Don't forget to score the flat side with a knife, make an X, and they'll be much easier to peel. He pops them in the toaster oven for about 45 minutes. The shells dry out so they are easier to break open, but it helps to have to have asbestos hands like him.
One of the toughest parts of the task is cutting an X into the hard outer shell of all those nuts. You need to have the right kind of very sharp knife and, as foodfoodfood notes, "asbestos hands." It also helps if there are no children or other sensitive types within earshot.
No doubt, some people enjoy this kind of activity. Me, I'd rather paint the house or spend a couple of hours in conversation with my deaf uncle.
Peeling Chestnuts – the easy way
I love chestnuts – just plain roasted, in bread sausage stuffing, with red cabbage, soup – you name it, I love them. But I despise the kind in jars and I hate the hassle of peeling them. Those pesky inner skins never seem to want to come clean and of course, there is that little problem of spending way too long with a paring knife to make that cross.
Well, I have discovered the fool proof way to cut the chestnuts, plus the foolproof method to peel them.
To cut the chestnuts purchase the Jasco Chestnutter®. This really works. I have no financial relationship with this company so my endorsement is just based on personal experience.
Now once you have cut the chestnuts, I use a trick that was published in the LA Times, Dec 17, 1995. It is also in Verge’s book Vegetables in the French Manner.
Chestnuts to peel
Preheat oven to 550 (my oven only goes to 525, but it still works) for at least 30 minutes.
Score the chestnuts with your Jasco Chestnutter® and roast them on a baking sheet at 550 for 5 minutes. Check them to be sure they are not burning. If you need to roast them for a minute or two more to be sure they are open, be very careful they don’t burn.
Remove the chestnuts from the oven and immediately cover them with a towel that has been soaked in ice water and wrung out. Let them steam for a minute or so under the cold towel – don’t let them cool too much.
DO NOT DO TOO MANY CHESTNUTS AT ONCE – for 3 pounds of chestnuts we did them in 4 batches. While we peeled one batch, the second batch was in the oven.
Enjoy and Happy Holidays.
This is a P.S. to this post. There is a huge advantage to being fortunate enough to have wonderful chefs as friends. I sent out a SOS to one of them re freezing chestnuts. He came up with the perfect solution and one that decreases the stress during the holidays. Shell the chestnuts using the above procedure. The chestnuts will still be hard. I don’t have a cry-o-vac machine, but I took the peeled chestnuts to my local market, went to the meat department and asked if they had a cry-o-vac machine. They did and now I have chestnuts in the freezer that are now in cry-o-vac.
When you are ready to use the chestnuts, defrost and cook according to the recipe you are using until crumbly for stuffing. This recipe is ONLY for shelling. They are hard and not ready to eat using this method! My suggestion is to boil them in stock until soft and crumbly.
I saw them yesterday on sale for $1.99/lb at Zion Market (at the City Center shopping center on the corner of 6th and Alexandria in Ktown). I think that a good deal, cause all the Korean grandmas were pushin and shovin. I usually just boil them, but I have microwaved them (make sure to pierce it with a knife first).