There's more than one way to skin a chestnut
Hank Foresta of Glendora read Food Editor Russ Parsons' story on chestnuts, and kindly passes along some memories -- and a handy tip to keep in mind as Thanksgiving approaches:
I grew up in Boston with roasting chestnuts, so I know firsthand about their delicious flavor and of course how to prepare them. The Italians in our family score the nut only once across the round belly. It is usually a score that is more than halfway across the nut. When it is fully cooked, the outer shield folds in half, exposing the nut. Some nuts, because of their shape, are difficult to open no matter how you cook them. When I was a kid we used the top of a wood stove to cook them, and sometimes my father took the iron grate off and lined up the nuts on an iron ledge so they would get closer to the fire.
I have been experimenting over the years with cooking them. Roasting is obviously the best way. But I also cook them in the microwave oven for about two minutes.The size of the nut and how many I cook determine how long I cook them. I cook six to eight at a time. Two minutes is about just right. If I cook more, I increase the time, but not by much. No one can tell a roasted nut from a microwaved nut.
Please let us know if you have any holiday memories to share, or tips to pass along. And check back Wednesday at noon for a Daily Dish online chat: Russ Parsons will help you with all your Thanksgiving menu planning and questions. And if you have any last-minute turkey emergencies, Times Test Kitchen Manager Noelle Carter will be available for chatting Wednesday, Nov. 26, also at noon, at Daily Dish.
-- Rene Lynch
Photo credit: Stephen Osman / Los Angeles Times