Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Mystery ingredient -- chestnuts

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Chestnuts

What is it?

The starchy, brown-shelled nuts famously roasted over an open fire as a holiday treat in winter. The ancient Greeks and Romans wrote of the flatulence produced by a diet too rich in chestnuts, according to the Cambridge World History of Food, also commented on the nut's medicinal properties, which supposedly treated such health hazards as poisoning, the bite of a mad dog and dysentery.

Looks like:

Each individual chestnut is encased in a green, prickly husk which when ripe, cracks open to reveal a brown-hulled nut. The flesh is yellowish white.

Tastes like:

Once cooked, the chestnut's texture is similar to that of a baked potato, with a delicate, sweet, and nutty flavour with slight floral nuances.

Used in:

Throughout history, chestnuts have been canned, candied, dried and used to make flour. But one of the best, and simplest, ways to enjoy them is freshly roasted. They can be cooked in the oven, on the stovetop or even in a microwave, but cut a slit in the top of each nut before cooking to prevent them from exploding. Place in a pan and roast for about 25 minutes, until the hulls become dark and brittle.

Found at:

G.J. Andrews Food & Wine Shoppe, 384 Academy Rd.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 8, 2012 E4

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