Heat the vegetable oil in a small deep saucepan or deep-fryer to 170°C (325°F). Using a small sharp knife, score a cross at the tips of the chestnuts.
Place the onion, garlic and olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes or until softened. Tie the bay leaf and thyme together with kitchen string and add to the pan. Add the chestnuts and
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