I think that sometimes we just need to reprogram our brains and direct all of our energy into something great and good for the soul, which in this case, is roasting and peeling chestnuts. The sweet tender nuts are the big reward for the work you put in. Last summer, we were getting ready for our Kentucky deer hunt. Kentucky is known for trophy deer hunting and months before the opener, we were working hard and scouting to find the best location to hang our stands. Kentucky deer huning is all about big farms, sweet corn, soy beans and large parcels of timber with big old oak trees in the middle of Amish country.
While hanging stands, I found what I thought were Chestnuts. After arriving back to the camp, I received a Chestnut history from Mark, the owner of Ducks and Bucks Plus, in Hopkinsville KY. He informed me that what I found were buckeye nuts. In 1904, one of the greatest natural disasters in US Forrest history struck. A devastating fungus was discovered on chestnut trees and within a few decades, the chestnut blight had killed over 4 billion chestnut trees on more than 200 million acres in eastern North America.
Well, having no luck with Kentucky Chestnuts, I found Chestnuts imported from Italy at my local market and had to get 2 bags. I love fire roasted chestnuts, it reminds me of Switzerland where you can purchase them in season from street vendors.
Here is a picture of the mighty hunters
Here is the way to roast chestnuts. First light your charcoal grill. To prep the chestnuts, use a sharp knife, making an incision about 1/8-inch deep through each chestnut shell, just into the flesh of the nut, and work your way almost around its circumference. Once all the chestnuts have been cut, place them in a sauce pan with water and bring to a simmer. Once the water begins to simmer, remove the chestnuts from the water and transfer them on to a baking sheet.
Roast/grill until the shells begin to char and peel back where you cut them.
The cooking time is roughly 15 minutes, but watch them carefully to prevent burning. Chestnuts should be turned or tossed around on the grill every 5 minutes so they cook evenly and the shells do not burn excessively. Remove the chestnuts from the grill, place them into a bowl and cover with a moist towel for 15 minutes. Allowing them to steam a bit will make them easier to peel.
Simply pull on the shell and slip the chestnut out. Some will be easier to peel than others.
Both the outer shell and the tough brown skin around the chestnuts should be peeled off.