Cooking with Chestnuts

We all have felt that same comforting image of perfectly roasted chestnuts during the cold, winter months.  It’s that same exhilaration that brings to mind a familiar holiday tune, but it’s October that is actually the peak season for the Western chestnut harvest. Unlike other nuts, chestnuts are perishable and can mold or dry out if not handled properly ― good reasons to choose a local harvest.

So what would be more comforting than a  Roasted Chestnut and Pear Soup with some candied chestnuts floating through it ?   To bring our chestnut soup to the Post Modern Cuisine era we added a Bosc pear meringue, which includes Xanthan Gum and Versawhip (recipe follows), a candied chestnut that was carmelized in brown sugar and butter, then dipped in Isomalt.  Accompanied with a sliced, poached pear and some cranberry.

To roast, preheat oven to 350°. With a small, sharp knife, cut an X through the shell on the flat side of each nut. Place nuts in a shallow pan and roast until skins open at Xs and nuts are tender inside (open one to check), 25 to 30 minutes. When they’re just cool enough to handle, squeeze them in a towel to loosen shells, then peel away shells and tough inner linings.

Bosc Pear Meringue
600g pear juice
ascorbic acid
.18g Xantham gum
.6g Versawhip
Juice pears into a bowl with ascorbic acid.  Shear the juice, Xantham gum, and Versawhip into the vortex of a Vitaprep blender and turn the speed up to fully hydrate.  Transfer to mixer, and whip to stiff peaks.
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