When we think chestnuts, we think poultry, bacon bits, mushrooms and chestnut cream. Chestnuts are then roasted or caramelized and work well because they contain carbohydrates (about 40%) and a little protein (in the fruit, but also in the butter that can be added to the recipe). When exposed to heat, you get the Maillard reaction and the caramelization reaction.
Caramelized, grilled and roasted notes develop. The molecules formed are similar to those in coffee or chocolate (roasted), roast meat (still Maillard reaction) and aged alcohol in barrels (rum, whiskey, cognac).
If you appreciate this special taste, it is because all these foods are a “good chemistry”.
A recipe for pan-roasted pears and chestnuts
Based on these similarities in aroma molecules, roasted chestnuts can be married with other products: hazelnuts, truffles, coffee, pears, toasted sesame, bacon, smoked salmon, roasted peanuts… for more innovation.
An original recipe idea: Pan-fried pears and chestnuts with coffee.
Roast some chestnuts in a little fat and add diced pears.
Once the pears have browned, add the coffee and deglaze
Sprinkle with crushed peanuts just before serving.
· Enjoy with a fillet of fish or chicken.
The roasted chestnut-coffee-pear-peanut accords are juicy. And the good news: By making half chestnuts, half pears, you cut about half the calories compared to a serving of chestnuts.
Chestnuts… in a salad
The secondary flavor profile of chestnuts is less well known than that of roasted or grilled chestnuts. It is simply steamed or chestnuts in a light broth.
Chestnuts contain hexan-1-ol, a molecule responsible for freshness, the “greenness” of green apples, black currants, chervil, tarragon or even kiwi.
So it’s a very good flavor idea in a salad, for example, finely chopped, or even crushed like a bulgur, with “green” notes: celery, grapes, dill or apple green. Add aromatic herbs, a drizzle of olive oil and sesame seeds for a salad that really makes a difference.
Chestnuts are valuable, as peeling them is still somewhat tedious. Some advocate “thermal shock,” which involves freezing them and then placing them in a boiling pan.
Hot peeling is not pleasant, it is better to keep them in a tea towel to avoid finger burns
Microwaving chestnuts can make them burst whole. This is not recommended, otherwise the skin must be cut off.
With a pressure cooker, this is good, because it creates pressure. At high temperatures and pressures, the “large” surface fibers that make up the skin are easily eroded.
Alternatively, adding a teaspoon of baking soda to the cooking water may be the solution, as baking soda also works on the fibers by softening the texture. This works for lentils, chickpeas, dry beans…and chestnuts.
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