I know I'm supposed to post more about my trip to France but yesterday I was reminded of my love/hate relationship with chestnuts so that's what I'm writing about.
While perusing the produce department at Publix the other day, I spotted a package of chestnuts. They looked clean and somewhat fresh. The label said they were from Italy. I've been told that we and many other places had a chestnut blight that wiped out our lovely chestnut trees and now we have to have trees shipped in from China.., of course.
I've lived in Florida for about 21 years now but at heart I am still a Jersey girl. A damn yankee. Growing up, it was a tradition alround holiday time to roast chestnuts. I love them. The first few years here in the south, I couldn't find them and when I did finally get hold of some they were awful! Size wise, they were small, and when finally roasted at least half of them were rotten. And then there is the problem of preparing them..
Boiling them leaves them rather tasteless. but to roast them, the shell/hull should be slit with a knife because the little buggers have a tendency to respond like popcorn and explode. Unfortunately, they don't hold together like popcorn. My history with them is frightening. I usually do put a slit in them and sometimes I'm even smart enough to enclose them so if they do explode they don't scatter all over.
Well last night I thought I'd just parboil them to give them a start. First I washed them because the chaulky film on them looked a bit like mold... then I was too lazy to score them and put them on a pizza tray to roast. Left the room to watch tv and didn't remember them until the explosion and Shadow flying three feet into the air. Three or four more explosions until I got to the kitchen. Turned off the oven and with a small potholder grabbed the tray to pull it out. Unfortunately I moved too fast and at least half of them hit the hot oven floor and proceeded to attack me with exploding projectiles of shells & chestnut meat.
Of course, I burned my hand, trying to retrieve the ones still whole and managed to get a few while ducking to avoid more exploding chestnuts. The ones I saved were delicious with only one not quite up to par.
This morning my clean-up project for the day was to vacuum out the oven. I have to admit that it was a first for me. I had to wipe down the top, sides, and shelves but the vacuum cleaner was the only tool that could get into the nooks & crannies to capture all the tiny little pieces.
I wonder if someone sells a chestnut roaster? One that is guaranteed not to attack.