One of the most important steps in cooking chestnuts takes place before you even put them in the roasting pan. Scoring the chestnuts before you cook them makes sure they don’t explode in the oven or over the fire. It also helps later, as the score makes the nuts easy to peel. So how is this scoring done? Here are three ways to score your chestnuts.
The traditional way to score your chestnuts is to place the nut on your cutting board with the flat side down. You then cut an X into the round top of the nut with a paring knife. This method works for many people, but isn’t suitable for all situations. If you have many nuts to score or have nuts with harder shells, there are other ways to score that might better suit your situation.
Soak your chestnuts
If you find the nuts too hard to score, soak them in lukewarm water for 20 minutes before you start your scoring. This will soften the nuts up considerably and allow you to score faster and more precisely. Try either the classic X or a straight-line score across the round top of the nut and you will find the chestnut opens up beautifully once it has been boiled or roasted.
The No Cut Score
If you can’t or don’t like to cut your chestnuts, there’s a perfect score for you too. Place your chestnut on the cutting board flat side down, take your paring knife and stab it into the top of your chestnut. Then, turn your nut 90 degrees and stab it again. You will have a small, deep X on the top of your chestnut. This method is particularly good if you have very hard chestnuts and don’t feel comfortable cutting with a small knife.