The Best Method for Perfect Chestnuts
Comparing the years we are experiencing with those of three decades ago is very difficult without falling into the very dangerous trap of rhetoric, that of “it was better when it was worse” to understand us. In this, the fact of being not personally very inclined to nostalgia helps me and it is therefore difficult to live the confrontation in a way that can be defined less than objective. And objectively the fall of when I was a kid was a different thing: the change of season was much more gradual and it did not go from a T-Shirt to a winter coat temperature in a week. On the other hand, when the cold came, he did it seriously, not somehow as it does today. If I recall at the beginning of November, I remember the crackle of ice under the shoes on the pebbles during the visit to the cemetery, the mass time with mom and dad taking hands into the pockets for keeping them warm a little and immediately after that the maximum enjoyment: the chestnuts taken by the chestnut roaster outside the churchyard. Hold the warm bag of oily paper in your hands and eating them on the way back to the car. They were perfect: yellow-gold, chubby, with the outer skin that practically came off with a gesture, dividing into two exact parts and leaving the immaculate fruit in hand. We will have tried a thousand times to replicate the cooking of their roaster bin in our fireplace at home but never with the same results.
Then I grew up, the adolescence first came and then a family of my own and of course came the barbecue. And along with it, many years later, the perfect chestnuts of a time came back. Unfortunately, in the meantime, the falls in T-Shirts have also come to ruin the atmosphere, but the chestnuts are right the same. Compounding all this, there were some popular end of season festivals to which I participated and in which I had alongside the former alpine association, very active in my area, engaged in chestnuts sales, destined for beneficial purposes fundraising. Some of them taught me on those occasions what they called the “alpine method” which is of a crazy simplicity but at the same time extremely effective: a bottle of prosecco in his hand, giving a glass to the chestnuts and one to the ‘ Alpine. Easy.
In practice what does it mean? It means roasting the chestnuts on a beautiful burning fire pouring over at regular intervals a glass of white wine and a handful of salt on them. The wine mixes with salt, and on one hand it delivers a delicious flavor and makes the fruit of chestnuts richer and on the other it quickly evaporates on the outer skin, leaving only the salt to dehydrate it. When trying to replicate it in a home version of this system I then found that the kettle lends itself wonderfully well: the heat of the coals helps a lot to dehydrate the skin but at the same time the enclosure helps to maintain the moisture underlying this principle. More specifically, the best systems I have found are the following:
The first and best of all, is based on the use of the rotisserie and one of its accessory, so far not understood by the Italian market: the oval basket. First of all, towards white wine in a food sprayer. After engraving the chestnut surface with a sharp knife I put it in the basket, mounted on the roast rod, sprinkle it abundantly with the wine and a couple of salt pinch, close it and turn it on with lid kettle closed in which I poured a chimney filled with burning briquettes. For temperature lovers, we are about 220 ° C. Every 5 minutes, while the basket rotates, sprinkle still plenty of wine and add an extra salt pinch. Yet after 10 minutes you start to see the skin that begins to open. After about 30 minutes the chestnuts are cooked, depending on the size. Chubby, tasty and practically open.
I did not always have a rotisserie and an oval basket at my disposal. In these cases I found myself well doing the same procedure through a vegetable tray on the grid. The flared edges also contain chestnuts well even in the moment, when I spray and salt the chestnuts, I spin it through a spatula, replicating the effect of the rotisserie.
Autumn is no longer the same as when I was a child but with so good chestnuts I can even think of forgetting. And how do you cook your chestnuts in the barbecue?