Since I have been buying fresh chestnuts by the bag full lately, I have been trying out every method I could find to peel them so I could use them in my recipes. One afternoon I actually took an hour or two and tried a few different methods I found on the internet to peel chestnuts to find the one that worked the best. Yes I know, perhaps my chestnut obsession is getting a little out of control, but just remember, my efforts are your gain! After trying the traditional method of cutting an X into the flat side of each chestnut and then boiling or roasting them, I did find a method that made peeling both the outer hard shell of the chestnut as well as the inner skin or pellicle much easier.
By cutting an X through the flat bottom of the chestnut where the inner skin is attached and toughest to remove I found both layers on the chestnut come off quite easily without much fuss. If you find the inner skin a bit sticky, simply drop that chestnut into the hot water for another minute or two. This method only requires boiling the chestnuts for 7 or 8 minutes, so once peeled they are not already half cooked. I have put a step by step guide together to help you understand exactly what I mean. Don’t look at my nails please, after peeling too many chestnuts I am in dire need of an emergency manicure!
This is the area at the bottom of the chestnut that you need to cut.
Use a sharp knife and cut an X into the bottom of each chestnut while you get a pot of water boiling.
Warning – Do not cut the chestnut while holding it like this or you may cut yourself!
This is what the chestnut should look like after you have cut your X. Place the chestnuts in the boiling water for 7 to 8 minutes.
Remove just a few chestnuts at a time from the water and use your fingers to pull off first the outer shell, then the inner skin. If the skin is sticking, either use a sharp paring knife to help remove it, or simply drop it back in the water for a minute or two.
Pull off all of both the outer shell and inner skin.
This is a chestnut minus the outer shell with just the inner, fuzzy skin left on. I had the return this one to the hot water to remove the inner skin or pellicle.
Here are two perfectly cleaned chestnuts. Once cleaned, cut away any
darkened areas and discard any dark colored chestnuts.
Peeled and ready for using in my Roasted Brussel Sprout recipe!
Deborah Mele 2011