Yep, it’s late fall. Chestnuts are showing up at the local grocers’ or, in our case, the local Whole Foods. And pricy though they may be, roasting these little gems at home is a heck of a lot cheaper than flying to Europe to get a paper sack full of chestnuts from a street vendor. Besides, if you can find good, fresh chestnuts, it’s simply too easy to do these at home, and in very little time. So, let’s get started with this step-by-step recipe beginning with a list of what you’ll need, directions on how to use what you’ll need, and how to serve these delightful morsels of goodness.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Approximately 30 chestnuts for two people; about 1.1 pounds/500 grams
- An oven heated to 425ºF/220ºC
- A very sharp serrated knife
- A cutting board that can handle a very sharp serrated knife
- Gauze, tape, alcohol, and perhaps an extra finger or two should you slip with that very sharp serrated knife
- A pot with some water
- A baking tray
- A clean kitchen towel
- Butter, preferably unsalted, for garnish
First off, forget all that stuff you’ve read about cutting an X across the top of the chestnut. That technique doesn’t work very well later when you want to pop out the nut from the shell. I’m going to show you a better way.
Lay the chestnut flat side down, round side up. Take your knife and, along one edge, made a shallow cut through the shell. Don’t worry if you cut slightly into the nut.
Continue scoring across the top of the chestnut. You may want to rotate the nut and begin from the other side, but that may not be necessary.
Now repeat the process with all the chestnuts. When you’re done, place the scored chestnuts into a pot and add just enough water to cover them.
Put the pot on the stove and turn up the heat. You want to remove those chestnuts just as the water begins to boil. Most will have begun to open along the cut you made earlier.
Spread the chestnuts, scored side up, onto the baking tray. Leave room around the individual nuts.
Place the chestnuts into your preheated 425ºF/220ºC oven and roast them for twenty minutes (English) or for 20 minutes (metric). In my case, I used my oven’s convection mode, but that’s not necessary.
Here’s how your chestnuts should look when you remove them from the oven:
Don’t get grabby! We’re not yet done. Remember that dish towel from the list above? Now is when that comes into play.
Place the chestnuts onto your kitchen towel, then fold the towel over to trap the heat. Leave those nuts alone for another ten minutes (English) or 10 minutes (metric).
Time’s UP! Unwrap those chestnuts!
Now, plate a few nuts and, while you’re enjoying those, rewrap the remainder to keep warm. On an unrelated note, do you know what one calls leftover lettuce? The romainder.
Don’t forget to put a little butter on these delicacies. We prefer cold butter, which is easy to dab onto the chestnuts. The butter then warms up and begins to spread as you prepare to pop a nut into your drooling Pavlovian mouth.
If you’re wondering why I put this article together and posted it on an irregular day (a Tuesday rather than my usual Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays), that’s because time is of the essence. Chestnuts are just hitting the markets here locally, and they won’t in most likelihood be there a month from now. If they are, they’ll be way past their prime; you’ll wind up throwing out quite a few if you wait that long. So, hurry on out there and stock up. Get a few pounds/kilo or two and store in the refrigerator those chestnuts you won’t be roasting today. I’ve found they stay fresh much longer when kept cold.
Feel free to leave a note on how this recipe worked out for you!
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