This gem fell from the lips of Matthew Evan’s (Tasmania’s Gourmet Farmer) so I blame him for my penchant for a biscuit with my cup of tea. It’s the bipolar opposite to the boring old “a moment on your lips a lifetime on your hips.” I salute you Matthew Evans but am acutely aware that you chase pigs around the farm and dig turnips form your fields before your cup of tea. I do not.
Since my office and backyard are devoid of turnips and pigs, I suppose a little caution is required when selecting my morning tea accompaniment. There are countless recipes for Bliss Balls and muesli bars but at this time of year, there is an opportunity to take something directly from nature and simply “heat and eat.” This is where the humble chestnut comes in.
Chestnuts are the ultimate “grab n go” indulgence food. As sweet as cake, as satisfying as a biscuit, as filling as a muffin and better for you than a health food bar.
Just one ingredient recipe….Delicious, sweet, nutritious, no fuss.
The chestnut, unlike other nuts only contains 2% fat (so it’s very different to other nuts). An average chestnut weighs around 15 - 20g (plump in season, although they do vary of course.) I think you could happily eat 2 with a cup of tea (more if you’ve been chasing pigs or small children.)
Eating 2 chestnuts will provide you with 17% of your daily manganese requirements and around 6% of your Thiamin, Folate and B12 requirements.
They are also pretty much a gourmet guarantee for success.
All you need to do to before roasting is place the nuts on a board and cut a cross in the top of the chestnut with a heavy sharp knife. A Chinese style cleaver is ideal and pretend you are chopping through chicken bones - non chopping hand away from the board. Pop them in a hot oven for 30 minutes and voila…the shells peel back, the tender nutty flesh warms and sweetens and the goodness is ready to be savoured. Even if you are not eating immediately, they are best peeled when warm - it's just easier.
While they are roasting, pop on the kettle, make a pot of tea and sit back and soak up the earthy goodness of the chestnut and your wholesome cuppa.
The season, alas is almost over so you must be careful when selecting your chestnuts. They are at their peak between March and June. Look for heavy nuts with clean shells. The lighter ones may have started to dry out. You can still cook with these, but they may be better for boiling and pureeing as it adds some water back in. You can spread the puree on toast with some pear or use it in cakes instead of banana or to replace butter and sugar.