If you’ve only been roasting chestnuts consider this pressure cooker recipe an intervention. Chestnut cream is a decadent, rich and addictive pleasure.
|Chestnut cream on sweet vanilla white polenta squares drizzled with chestnut honey.|
The best things in life are free for the taking.. if you know where to look!
Last week, chestnuts began falling from the sky, tumbling to the ground, cracking open and waiting to be swooped home.
|Vittorio and Adriana gathering chestnuts on 2,500 year-old road (Via Appia Antica), outside of Rome.|
Using wild chestnuts is a bit of a challenge- they are all different ages, sizes and shapes. They are much more difficult to work with than supermarket chestnuts that have come from carefully tended trees that have been harvested at the same time and run their nuts through machinery to sort and package similarly aged and sized-chestnuts.
|Wash wild chestnuts by dunking in large bowl with water and a splash of vinegar, swooshing them around to remove dirt and then strain and rinsing well. Discard any chestnuts with small holes or cracks. Dry completely before refrigerating or freezing.|
Peeling chestnuts is usually a very painful process. Thankfully, I found a YouTube Video that carefully describes the problem and gives a beautiful solution.
The Badgersett Farms chestnut peeling technique could not be easier. Here it is in a nutshell:
- Slice raw chestnuts in half.
- Bring a small pot of water to boil, and dump the chestnuts halves in.
- As soon as the water begins to boil again, strain.
- Use needle-nose pliers (they recommend spring handled- I really need a pair!) to pinch the skin and peel off the chestnut half.
- Work quickly and with small batches, because as the chestnuts cool, the become more difficult to peel.
The video shows almost all the chestnuts being easily peeled. Your mileage may vary. My mangy wild Italian chestnuts only peeled perfectly about 25% of the time – the rest I had to un-shell using the tedious spoon-handle method. You want to make sure you remove the inner (hairy) membrane that wants to sick to the chestnut meat. It doesn’t have an off flavor, but will give chestnut recipe an unpleasant astringent after-effect.
|Pressure Cooker||Accessories||Pr. Cook Time||Pr. Level||Open|
|6 L or larger||none||20 min.||High(2)||Natural|
- 1½ pounds or 750g fresh chestnuts
- about 11oz or 300g white sugar
- about 11oz or 300g water
- Optional splash of Rum Liquor (1/8th of a cup or to taste)
- Halve and peel the chestnuts, using the Badgersett Farms technique, described above.
- Weigh the peeled chestnuts in the pressure cooker and write it down.
- Then, zero out the scale (zero or tar button) and add half the chestnut's weight in sugar (or more to taste) and half the chestnut's weight in water. For example, I rounded up the weight of my chestnuts to 500g of peeled chestnuts, add 250g of sugar and 250g of water.
- Close and lock the lid of the pressure cooker. Turn the heat up to high and when the cooker reaches pressure, lower to the heat to the minimum required by the cooker to maintain pressure. Cook for 20 minutes at high pressure.
- When time is up, open the pressure cooker with the Natural release method - move the cooker off the burner and wait for the pressure to come down on its own (about 10 minutes).For electric pressure cookers, disengage the “keep warm” mode or unplug the cooker and open when the pressure indicator has gone down (20 to 30 minutes).
- Add an optional splash or rum to taste (I used about ⅛th of a cup). Puree the contents by tilting the pressure cooker and blending with an immersion blender until desired consistency.
- Serve to use as a spread, like jam, on bread, cakes and sweets.
Yields about 1½ cups