On a daily basis, my social media is filled with photos of autumn which are very normal considering this time of the year and also photos of one of the fruits of the season: conkers. Only last week I learned this word (never knew how was it called in English) and I was thrilled with happiness for finally know how to say it. With a little research I found odd not be able to find any recipes with them I though maybe cooking them is more of a Portuguese tradition instead of a worldwide one. It was annoying me soo bad how a simple recipe wasn’t online so people could enjoy eating conkers instead of just leave them around the house.
When I realised conker was a toxic species and you’re not supposed to eat them I just wanted to bang my head against a wall. How could I be so stupid?! How could I not think there were more than one species?? After all the banging, I learned another word: chestnut. They’re called chestnuts. Conkers are chestnuts but it specifies a species also know as Horse Chestnut because they were toxic to the horses so ended up having this name and conker was the name of a children’s game with the nuts of the horse chestnut tree which gave another name to the tree. Chestnut being such a meaningful name is better to specify what I usually eat this season are sweet chestnuts a species mostly growing in southern Europe including Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Greece and Turkey.
Once I changed the name “conkers” with “chestnuts” my searched made a lot more sense. I was pleased to see a simple roasted chestnuts recipes all over Pinterest. I am an unconditional lover of this bad boys and I dream of the day my mother come home with a bag full of them.
Every time my mom decides to roast some chestnuts for a late afternoon snack, the smell in the kitchen brings up so many memories of my childhood and an amazing autumnal feeling. Just by thinking about it, my mouth starts to watering. Also, is really common to find them around the city – especially in busy places – being roasted which give an autumnal and cosy smell to the city. I’m starving right now I need to buy more ASAP.
– Sea salt
1.You need to start by cutting them horizontally or vertically just enough to cut through the skin – this is the hard part so be careful with yours fingers, no need to be eating chestnuts with less than 10 fingers.
2.Grab a big pan and cover the bottom with sea salt. Put in all the chestnuts inside and cover them turn on in medium-high heat.
3.From time to time give it a little shake so they can cook evenly. Be aware they can burn easily so try not to forget them. It will take a while before they are cooked and easy peeling.
4.Be a truly home cook and when you think they are done take one a try it – I love doing this because the cooker always gets to eat first before hitting the table. When they are done put them on a plate or a bowl and take off the majority of the sea salt – if hey get too much of it attached. Eat while warm because is hard to peel them off when cold.
Trick. If there are leftovers peel all of them and freeze them afterwards you can use in others recipe such as in oven with a good piece of pork and a homemade sauce – is to die for.
Note. I still need to test my theory better but I think the hard chestnuts to peel off the skin means they are from last year or even later so the fresher’s ones basically fall off the skin.
We all know the older people have old beliefs and stories not always true some of them are so strange that make me laugh and other are so cute and interesting I want to believe in them as well. My grandmother told me when we eat a Chestnut for the first time every year we should make a wish, unfortunately, this year I was too late for that, only knew this after eating a few of them. Well, I was late this season but I will keep in mind for the next one. In fact, I don’t believe in just wishing for something and that it will come true but there is no harm in creating a “new tradition” around chestnuts – more stories to tell to my grandsons.
Back a bit to how I started this post, all my messy idea of conker and chestnut made me remember a story back when I was 8 years old – maybe – and my grandfather gave to me 3 conkers and told they were not supposed to be eaten and that I should keep them to keep bugs again and so I did. After 12 years I still have them stored in a jewellery box and let me tell you there’s never been a bug inside – or outside – of that box and the conkers… are good as new!