Anything that can be seen as a chore in the kitchen can equally be seen through more positive eyes as something satisfying and therapeutic. I am very happy to shell peas, clean wild mushrooms and prep artichokes all day long. Chestnuts need a little more persuasion and force to reveal themselves than the pods of summer vegetables, such as coco beans or broad beans, but it is well worth the effort and a good way to get every member of the family involved in dinner. When braised, chestnuts soften to a delicious waxiness that is a joy with roast chicken, game or beef. Or make it the star of the show and mix with some fresh pasta or spoon over tray baked root vegetables, all cooked to melting softness that highlights their inherent sweetness. The fennel seed here adds a delicious herbaceous aniseed edge to a salted toffee-like liquor. Don’t be put off by the amount of muscovado, or fat for that matter. Your winter coat starts here!
75g Muscovado sugar
100g Rapeseed oil
1 tsp Salt
1tsp Fennel seeds
500g Shelled chestnuts
1 tsp Corn flour, dissolved in 2 tbsp of Water
- Pre-heat the oven to 220℃.
- Bring the first 6 ingredients to a boil for the liquor, then remove from the heat whilst you prep the chestnuts.
- Score the chestnuts with a paring knife then place in the raging hot oven for 5 mins. Remove and once cool enough to handle, peel away the shell.
- Lower the oven temperature to 160℃.
- Place the peeled chestnuts in a baking dish or ovenproof pan (one with a lid) and pour over the braising liquor (return to a boil before doing so) to cover completely but snugly. Top with some tinfoil or the lid and place in the oven to cook for 45 mins – 1hr.
- Once tender, strain off the juice into a pan and then whisk in the cornflour solution.
- Return to a boil and whisk to thicken and emulsify. Return the chestnuts to this and serve straightaway, or chill and reheat the following day.