Chestnuts are starchy “nuts” with a thin shell. They have long been enjoyed by numerous people groups, and been immortalized in my mind from hearing Bing Crosby crooning out “chestnuts roasting over an open fire” during my childhood. I have long wanted to roast my own, and I found it a fun project! A perfect snack for a snowy day.
Chestnuts don’t really taste like most nuts, such as walnuts, pecans or almonds (in fact, they aren’t a true nut, but in reality a fruit). But rather they taste more akin to a sweet potato. So Chestnuts are really a fruit that taste like a root vegetable. Surprising, isn’t it!
Chestnuts are used for a myriad of recipes, from vegetable dishes to pureed chestnuts in cakes.
I was a little concerned that it would be difficult to peel chestnuts, so I was pleasantly surprised to find that most of the chestnuts were fairly easy to peel simply using my fingers.
(Don’t forget! I will be drawing the winner from The Tickle Trunk giveaway later today!)
(I used Italian Chestnuts, as locally grown ones are still being replenished after a terrible chestnut blight in the early nineteen hundreds and are harder to find)
1-Preheat oven to 425 degrees
2-Wash and dry your chestnuts
3-Find the flat side of your chestnut, and using a sharp, pointed knife, cut a wide “x” on the chestnut, making sure that you cut all the way through the peel. I found that the ones with more distinct cut marks were much easier to peel (cutting the nut shells also makes sure that the chestnuts don’t explode while cooking).
4-Place on a metal pan, and put in the top third of your hot oven. Roast for about 15 minutes, then check and stir them. Roast for another 10 to 15 minutes, until the centers are hot and steamy, a nice toasty smell drifts out to meet you when you open the oven door, and the cut edges are just slightly starting to brown.
5-To peel them, simply pull off the shell with your fingers. Hopefully the inner papery/fuzzy shell will come off at the same time. If not, pull this layer off too. Make sure there is no mold on the nut and eat right away while still hot. These will become harder to peel as they cool, so if needed, you can reheat them.
To serve them plain, you can just serve the unpeeled chestnuts hot, and let everyone peel their own. A fun, nutritious snack with plenty of Christmas nostalgia.
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I don’t think I’ve ever eaten a chestnut in my life. But you make it look so easy and wholesome and tasty. Maybe we’ll give this a try.
Stacy@Delighting in the Days
I’m so glad you posted this. I have been wanting to try roasted chestnuts! Can’t wait.
They actually are a very traditional food for the America’s (and for other countries as well), it’s just very sad that most of the trees were wiped out about a hundred years ago and it’s been a slow process replanting etc.
We liked them! They really were a bit like eating little sweet potatoes.
It’s one of those things that you have to try at least once! It’s too Christmasy and fun to never try. 🙂 Just make sure you buy firm, full ones, otherwise they may be old and moldy. Yuck!
Thanks for the above recipe on chestnuts. I also remember it was always a big deal during winter months and lots of company. My mother would prepare chestnuts as the above and then my father would put the chestnuts on a large cookie sheet in the middle of the table, sprinkle a little sugar, pour brandy on top, turn the lights out and light it with a match and stir the chestnuts. We all watched with joy as the flames dwindled. The lights went on and everyone with a toothpick would reach for the most delicious chestnuts ever.
My mother makes a chestnut stuffing every year using fresh chestnuts. From her experience, she finds the Italian Chestnuts much easier to peel than the kind they normally sell in supermarkets.
I came across Italian Chestnuts at Trader Joe’s this year and decided to give it a try since my mother keeps raving about how easy to peel Italian Chestnuts. I did find them easy to peel, except for one that exploded in the oven. I mean really exploded because I didn’t make a good cut. It sounded like a bomb went off in the oven and when I open the oven door. I saw the exploded chestnut into tiny bits against the oven wall and left me just an empty shell. I had to immediately set the oven for self clean at that point, all because of one exploded chestnut.
Received a bag of Italian chestnuts today. Can’t wait to try this recipe!
Maybe because I live in California. I have NEVER been able to buy chestnuts that are good after roasting. In a pound bag, there will be, on a good batch, five or six good chestnuts . The rest are too hard to eat or are rotten. How and where can I buy good chestnuts. I’ve even gone to a chestnut farm in Sonoma and they were bad too. Thanks.
Oh, that’s a good question! Up here in Oregon, it’s mostly about buying them at the peak of the season. I wonder if it would make a difference to talk to the farmer and find out when they are at their best?