In Season West Coast: Chestnuts
Happy Boy Farm has chestnuts! Since almost all the chestnuts in this country are imported, it’s pretty special to find local ones. Happy Boy is the only Northern California farm I know of that has them.
They’re only available for a couple of weeks. If you want them to keep until Thanksgiving or Christmas for a special recipe, you can freeze them in the shell for a few months. You’ll find the Happy Boy stand at the Berkeley, Ferry Plaza, Noe Valley, Oakland and other local farmers markets.
Chestnuts are ancient starchy nuts dating back to prehistoric times. In many parts of the world, they are ground and used as flour for baking. They are also used for soups, stuffings, desserts, pastas and of course “roasting over an open fire”. Lots of ideas here.
To remove the meat from the shell, you have to cook them. There are several ways to do this. You must cut an X in the shell on the flattest side first. Then you can boil them for for 3-4 minutes just to remove them from the shell if you want to cook them whole. Or, you can boil them until completely cooked for 15-25 minutes, but only use this method if you’re pureeing them. You may also roast them in the oven for 25-20 minutes in a 400 ° F oven. Or on the grill in a pie plate with holes punched in it.