Roasting chestnuts is one of my favorite winter traditions.
When I was growing up, my mom would toss a pan of chestnuts into the oven as we were sitting down to dinner. They would roast as we ate. Then after dinner, we would linger around the table, peeling and eating the warm chestnuts. We did this on a regular basis starting in November (when fresh chestnuts usually make their first appearance in the grocery stores) and continued it all through the cold winter months.
I’ve done a little research (i.e. I asked like 5 friends) and discovered that not a lot of people have roasted and eaten fresh chestnuts at home. So I thought a quick little “how to” post was in order. Because you guys shouldn’t be missing out on this!
There isn’t really much of a recipe here. You simple pierce the shell of the chestnuts with a sharp knife and then roast them in the oven. But there is a little bit of a technique with the peeling. You have to find the “sweet spot” when they are the easiest to peel. If the chestnuts are too hot, you burn the crap out of your hands. And if they are too cool, the thin inner peel tends to stick and becomes impossible to remove. So it takes a bit of practice to learn the timing.
One last word of caution. Don’t get a manicure before doing this.
- Fresh chestnuts (in the shell)
- Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.
- With a small sharp knife, carefully cut a small “X” shape into each chestnut, making sure you pierce through the hard outer shell. Place the chestnuts on a rimmed baking sheet or in a baking pan and transfer to your pre-heated oven. Roast for 40-45 minutes. Give the pan a little shake about halfway through roasting to move the chestnuts around the pan. As the chestnuts roast, the “X” should widened and peel back slightly.
- Remove the chestnuts from the oven and let them cool in their pan for about 5-7 minutes. Don't let them cool completely. Once the chestnuts get cold it becomes very difficult to remove the thin inner peel.
- To peel, start by giving the chestnuts a little squeeze in the palm of your hand to loosen up the shell. Then use your fingers to remove the shell. Make sure you remove both the hard outer shell and the thin inner peel from the meat. Enjoy the chestnuts while they are still warm.
1. You can find fresh, un-shelled chestnuts in the produce section of any major grocery store during the fall/winter months. They are usually sold in bulk. A home, store them in a cool, dry place.
2. The meat of the chestnut should be tan/brown. If you get a chestnut that is discolored (black-ish), do not eat it and throw it away.
3. Roasted and peeled chestnuts also make great additions to many recipes. Check out the internet for some inspiration!
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