Bonus Holidays Recipe Article: Roasting Chestnuts


Hot, freshly roasted chestnuts with a little butter

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.

Chestnuts, cutting board, and a very sharp serrated knife

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.

Cut along one side of the chestnut

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.

Keep going!
Rotate the chestnut and continue cutting all the way across the top (rounded portion) of the chestnut

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.

Add water to just cover the scored chestnuts

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.

Bring just to a boil, then immediately remove the chestnuts from the water

Spread the chestnuts, scored side up, onto the baking tray. Leave room around the individual nuts.

Spread the chestnuts out onto a baking tray

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.

425ºF/220ºC oven for either twenty minutes (English) or 20 minutes (metric)

Here’s how your chestnuts should look when you remove them from the oven:

Roasted chestnuts, but we’re not yet done!

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 roasted chestnuts onto the kitchen towel

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).

Hot chestnuts resting in a kitchen towel

Time’s UP! Unwrap those chestnuts!

Time to dig in!

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.

Freshly roasted chestnuts practically jumping from their shells on their own

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.

YUM!

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!

Слава Україні! (Slava Ukraini!)

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Mediterranean Cruise 2022 — Ajaccio Cathedral, Corsica


Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption of Ajaccio

Today I present to you yet another of the three ABCs of European travel (Another Bloody Castle, Another Bloody Church, Another Bloody Cathedral). Old joke and, yes, I’m just kidding. Both Ursula and I just love these things. Today it’s another cathedral — Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption of Ajaccio, otherwise known simply as Ajaccio Cathedral. This structure was erected between 1577 and 1593 and is credited to famed Italian architect Giacomo della Porta. While the exterior may not appear all that imposing in comparison to other cathedrals I have shown you on these consecutive Vision of the Seas voyages, just step inside. Doing so will change your mind rather quickly.

Ajaccio Cathedral, Corsica, France

Time to look up and admire that arched ceiling and dome:

Ajaccio Cathedral, Corsica, France

Let’s more along for a closer look at that altar:

Ajaccio Cathedral Altar

Napoleon Bonaparte was baptized in this cathedral in 1771. Later in life, during his exile to St. Helena, he said, “If they forbid my corpse, as they have forbidden my body, a small piece of land in which to be laid, I desire to be buried with my ancestors in Ajaccio cathedral in Corsica.” A marble plaque inscribed with that quote remains today at the entrance.

More ceiling details

You may have noticed that behind the altar is an impressive painting. Alas, I’ve been unable to find anything on it. Nevertheless, here’s a closer look:

Ajaccio Cathedral altar painting

The cathedral’s pipe organ was built in 1849 by Aristide Cavaillé-Coll. It has since been restored and electrified.

Ajaccio Cathedral organ pipes

We’ll call it quits for today, and on Monday we’ll stroll by Napoleon Bonaparte’s childhood home. Before we go, here’s one last look at that incredibly ornate cathedral ceiling:

Ajaccio Cathedral ceiling

Слава Україні! (Slava Ukraini!)

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Fun Photo Friday — Mediterranean 2022; Corsica Favorites Part 2


Napoleon misplaced his hat?

Today is Part 2 of 3 Fun Photo Friday favorites of Corsica. Next week we return to Corsica for a tour of Cathedral Santa Maria Assunta (Monday) and a pass by Napoleon’s childhood home. Until then:

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