Cooking With Hazelnuts

Humans have been eating hazelnuts for millennia and there is evidence in Scotland for large-scale harvesting of hazelnuts over 7000 years ago where whole communities would move to hazel woods to collect and prepare the nuts.

It is an interesting property of hazelnuts that the green nut is indigestible to children, but once cooked it becomes a very good foodstuff. That's why many recipes call for hazelnuts to be roasted before use.

In the main, it's the common hazel, Corylus avellana that's grown. But development of the wild stock in orchards and gardens has led to a whole range of cultivars and in Britain one of the commonest is the Cobnut or Kentish Cob, originally developed around 1830 and which is now by far the commonest variety. It has a large shell and nut and is noted by remaining green in the shell for a long time after being picked, which makes it excellent for transportation.

Another common variety of hazelnut is the filbert Corylus maxima which is native to southeastern Europe and southwestern Asia and most commonly comes from Turkey.

In the recipes below, any of the hazelnut varieties named can be used, it just depends on what you have locally.

Chanterelle and Cobnut Soup

500ml double cream
450g chanterelle mushrooms
200g cobnuts
5 large garlic cloves, minced
1 onion, chopped
700ml chicken or rich vegetable stock
1 tbsp brandy
salt and black pepper, to taste
chopped fresh chives to garnish

Place the cobnuts on a baking tray and roast in an oven pre-heated to 140°C for 15 minutes. Allow to cool enough to handle then husk them. Reserve 10 and chop the remainder.

Add the cream, chopped cobnuts, mushrooms, garlic and onion in a large saucepan and heat, stirring continually, until the liquid has reduced appreciably (about 20 minutes). Allow to cool, transfer to a liquidizer and purée until smooth.

Add the stock to a pan, bring to a boil then stir-in the mushroom purée. Season with salt and pepper before adding the brandy. Return to a boil and cook for 5 minutes before taking off the heat and cooling. Strain through a fine-meshed sieve and return the strained liquid to a pan.

Heat through, ladle into warmed soup bowls, top with the reserved cobnuts and chives and serve.

Pork and Cobnut Casserole

1.5 kg stewing pork, cubed
1 1/2 onions, chopped
4 large cooking apples peeled and quartered
700g mushrooms, sliced
100g shelled cobnuts
2 tbsp whole coriander seeds
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
juice of 1 lemon
600ml strong cider
2 tbsp flour

Fry the the onions in a little oil then add the pork and continue frying until lightly browned. Sprinkle the flour over the top then gradually mix in the cider and lemon juice. Add the coriander seeds and rosemary and cook slowly for 20 minutes, keeping the casserole just simmering.

Add the mushrooms and apples and simmer for a further 10 minutes, or until the pork is tender and coked through. Season with salt and black pepper then add the cobnuts. Cook for a further 5 minutes so that the nuts heat through then serve.

I hope you enjoyed these hazelnut recipes and that you are now keen to know more about hazelnuts as an ingredient in your own recipes.

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About The Author, Gwydion
Dyfed Lloyd Evans runs the Celtnet Recipes site where you can find many more Hazelnut and Cobnut Recipes as part of the nut-based recipes section of his site.