Chestnuts are widely used in Azerbaijani cuisine, especially in Rice Pilaffs. They make a perfect snack when roasted, too. Here’s how you peel them to use in your recipes.
1. There are two methods you can choose from to treat the chestnuts before peeling them.
Option 1: With a sharp knife, cut an “X” on the flat side of each chestnut (Picture 1). Once you have penetrated the leather-like shell, it will feel hollow. Do not penetrate the nut itself.
Option 2: Another method is to cut off the flat bottom of the chestnut, as shown in the Picture 2. I usually use this method. Typically, this is what we do in Azerbaijan. Go with whichever method feels safer because you are dealing with a knife and chestnut peel is not a soft type.
2. Fill the pan with water and drop scored chestnuts into it. Bring to a boil and cook for about 10 minutes (times will vary depending on how the chestnuts are. The harder the shell, the longer they will cook. New chestnuts take shorter to boil). Remove from heat. Keep chestnuts in warm water for easier peeling.
3. Take one chestnut at a time and using a knife or your fingers start peeling beginning from the scored section to remove the outer shell, then the inner shell, which is usually harder to peel. If a chestnut is difficult to peel, drop it back into the pot with hot water to loosen the shells. If you still cannot get rid of the inner shell (it can be frustrating sometimes, but don’t panic!), just peel off some nut skin thinly with the shell. Do not forget to discard any bad (moldy) chestnuts.
4. Use the peeled chestnuts as directed in the recipe, or refrigerate in a sealed container for up to one to two months . You can also store them in your freezer for up to a year!