1 pound chestnuts (most of the fresh ones are available in Autumn)
Serves 6. Takes 45 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. While oven preheats, cut an “x” that covers one entire side on each chestnut. Make the cut deep enough to cut through the shell. (This makes the chestnut easy to peel. It also keeps it from exploding. This really can happen if you omit this step.)
Place chestnuts on baking pan. Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes or until chestnuts become tender, the chestnut shells start to open and become easy to peel, and the edible nut that’s inside turns golden brown. Remove from heat. Cover with kitchen towel. Let cool for 5 minutes. Peel and eat immediately.
1) As you can see, the left chestnut in the above photo is unpeeled. It also has an “x” cut into it by a knife. This makes it much easier to peel. The two chestnuts on the right have been peeled and are ready to eat. ☺
2) But wait! This narrative gets even more exciting. ☺☺
3) When prehistoric tribes decided to cut “x”s on chestnuts, they inadvertently developed the game Tic-Tac-Toe. The uncut chestnuts became “zero” or the letter “o.” These doughty cavemen were already two letters on the way to the present English alphabet. Go, cavemen, go! Excelsior!
4) Then one fine summer day caveman Carl La Fong invented the letter “b.” (We know about La Fong because he signed his cave paintings. They’re worth quite a bit if you can discover one.) Ancient peoples could now spell the word “box.”
5 Before you knew it, peoples everywhere had an alphabet and words for everything. Not much later, the word “box” led to actual boxes. CheeriosTM and AmazonTM became possible. And we owe it all to chestnuts and the visionary Carl La Fong. Yay.
– Paul De Lancey, The Comic Chef, Ph.D.
My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with its 180 wonderful recipes, my newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, and all my other books, are available on amazon.com.