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.