One of the best parts of winter is the fact that chestnuts come into season. Ever since I was young, I've enjoyed eating chestnuts whole and in various recipes (one of my favourites being gesztenyepüré). However, anyone who has cooked with them knows how hard it is to cook them just right and remove the two layers of the shell.
This winter I was determined to find a quick way to cook up a few chestnuts to eat whole for dessert after a meal and I think I've cracked it! (no pun intended)
Begin by slicing an "X" through the shell with a sharp knife as shown in the picture on the right (click on the photo to enlarge). You need to cut about 2/3 into the chestnut (but don't cut fully through). Then, you need to put a bit of water on a plate - a teaspoon or so - and place the chestnuts on the plate.
Cover it as shown on the picture to the left and microwave it for 33 seconds. It might be different for different models of microwave, but 33 is the exact time I need on our 1200W model. Also, 33 seconds is perfect for 3-4 chestnuts, the time is likely to vary if you add more. Occasionally a chestnut will explode, which is another reason for covering the plate.
If all goes to plan, the chestnuts will start hissing at about the 20 second mark and will have opened slightly by the time the microwave beeps as shown in the picture to the right. (click on the photo to enlarge)
The next step is to just peel the shell off (and you'll notice that both the inner and the outer shell come off together) and in a about a minute end-to-end you now have what you see in the photo below (click to enlarge) - ready to eat!