Sunday, December 13, 2009

Christmas Tradition for Me, Experiment for You

Note: This post was edited to change the name of the chestnuts to "chestnuts", because in my supreme ignorance (and poor research skills) I had settled with their "Brazilian name": Portuguese nuts. Thanks to the generosity of some readers (see comments below) I've increased my cooking vocabulary, and even learned that chestnuts are called "conkers" in Dublin. How cool is that? heh (Thanks Kristi! :-). I was also pointed to this English-Portuguese Cooking Glossary that you can download in PDF. Most useful!

Yeah, yeah. I know I said I'd re-post the
posterous' stuff in sequence, but I changed my mind. So, here's the thing, I have this great twitter friend, who shared with me this awesome apple chutney recipe. I had promised to try it, but since I'm much more of a lazy cooker than a lazy writer, I've decided to share a very simple recipe that she, and you, might find interesting.

This is a family tradition, but strangely enough only my mother cooks it in this particular way. [Or so I thought. See comment below in Portuguese, which you can translate right at the end of this page] Every time a friend would come by and try it there was a different reaction, and no one had ever heard about it. I'm talking about these nuts:

I was told the chestnuts go wonderfully well with meat, cooked salted with laurel leaves, and roasted in open fire, but we do it differently, and at least for us it's a Christmas tradition. I'd love to hear your opinion on this one, if you care to share. :-)

Sweet Chestnuts


500g of washed chestnuts
2 tea spoons of sugar (can be black sugar too, which I personally prefer)
2 tea spoons of fennel seed
1/2 tea spoon of salt


1. With a sharp knive, make a vertical slice on each nut's skin, in the same direction of its fibers. Like this:

2. Put the chestnuts in a pan and cover them with water, topping them by about two inches. Add the spices: sugar, salt and fennel seed.
Note: The extra water may be important on conserving the nuts and preventing from drying them out.

3. Cover the pan and cook the chestnuts for about 30 min. The cooking time depends on how fresh the nuts are, so you might want to start checking after 20 mins.
Note: By using a pressure pan you'll reduce the cooking time and get no difference in final result, which should look much like this:

You see how the slice has opened, much like... err, a broken heart? Well, that's when you know the chestnuts are cooked, but I suggest you also try one to make sure. And since the recipe makes a large portion, don't throw away the remaining brownish water. (It's normal that the water turns brown, so if you had the nuts washed before cooking, no worries about the apearance, ok?)

The Sweet Chestnuts are better served moisten and warm, and the cooking water helps conserving the flavor. Enjoy!


  1. Hi there, I didn't realize you live in Rome! We LOVE Rome.

    Are those Chestnuts? "Chestnuts roasting on an open fire..." Mel Torme. They look like them . Here in Dublin they call them "conkers", but not in the US. ~Kristi

  2. Sim, Mari, acho que o amigo do outro post tem razão... são chestnuts. E em PT ninguém cozinha do jeito que a gente faz no Brasil. Normalmente são mesmo torradas em fogo aberto e, pasme: com sal. O purê fica sensacional, especialmente para acompanhar carne de caça - javali e veado são ótimos acompanhamentos. Pra mim, estas castanhas fazem parte da vida na Europa! Beijos.

  3. Hi Kristi, thanks for the info on the nuts name! It's so trivial, but I had a hard time locating it.

    I was also told they could be called Italian and Californian nuts. Go figure. Nice curiosity the Dublin name. I like these things, heh.

    And yeah, I forgot to mention they're cooked in open fire. Good call, both of you. :-)

  4. Oi Má, eu pensei que fosse outra pessoa, haha! Foi mal.

    Nossa, você é a primeira pessoa que eu conheço (fora a minha família) que come essas castanhas doces. Todos costumam comer salgada, com louro. Vai saber... rs

  5. Hmmmmm -- my cooking skils are not my most sparkling accomplishment, but this does look interesting for sure!
    If only I had a magic wand! Ha!
    Donna Carrick

  6. Yeah, I know what you mean Donna. That's why I'm putting only easy recipes here, heh. And in this case there's no mistake, put everything on the pan and let it cook!

    If you get to try it, hope you enjoy the experiment. :-)

  7. That actually sounds good to me! I love fennel in so many things! Except for the sharp knife on the nuts, which I would pass to my husband to do, I think it sounds good!

    And, I never worry about brownish water;))


  8. Hey Anne, thanks for stopping by. I'm glad you liked the recipe. Maybe you'll tell me what you thought of the chestnuts after you give it a try? I love hearing first impressions on food (especially on the ones I most like, heh).

    I too am a fan of fennel. They go wonderfully well on cookies too, did you know? ;-)

    About the sharp knife, it's necessary to cut through the nut's hard skin, so it cooks quicker and absorbs better the fennel's flavor. Hope you enjoy. :-)


Recent Popular Posts