Chestnut Roasting at Home
Roasting chestnuts is a long-standing Italian tradition - local festivals are dedicated to chestnut roasting! There is no denying its unmistakably delicious smell – and the tender meat of the chestnut with its slightly sweet flavor similar to a sweet potato than another type of nut. Roasted chestnuts also are a bit spongey rather than crunchy. They are a wonderful flavor of the season that are easier to make at home than you might think – surprising there is no special equipment required and take only around 20 minutes.
When purchasing look for chestnuts that have a glossy look; are unblemished; are firm to the touch and feel heavy for their size.
Always try to roast your chestnuts within 2-3 days as the freshness will not last very long, even in the fridge. If you uncover moldy or bad chestnuts, they need to be discarded. Unfortunately, this can only be discovered once they are roasted and removed from the shell.
Here are simple steps to home chestnut roasting.
1- Preheat oven to 425°: A very hot oven is key for the chestnut to separate from its woodsy skin. Make sure the oven rack is placed in the middle.
2- Make an incision: Lay the chestnut flat on your cutting board. With a serrated knife, make a lengthwise slit down the entire middle surface, on the long side. Make sure you hold down the chestnut firmly on the cutting board (be careful not to cut yourself as the outer shell is very slippery). Be sure the incision cuts through the inner skin of the chestnuts. The incision will allow the steam to escape from the nut as it is being heated. If the chestnuts are not properly scored, they will explode in the oven! (true story!)
3- Boil the chestnuts: Place the chestnuts in a pot of cold water and bring to a boil. As soon as the water begins to boil, remove the chestnuts with a slotted spoon and place on a shallow baking pan. This quick boil will create the perfect environment for steam to be created once they hit the hot oven.
4- Roast chestnuts in oven: Please a single layer single, flat side down, the cut side up chestnuts single on your baking pan. Roast in the oven for about 15-20 minutes. This time can vary based on the size of your chestnuts. Give the pan a few shakes throughout the roasting time. You will notice that the shell splits open as they roast. The only way to know if they are cooked through is by eating one – tough job but someone has to do it!
5-Wrap them up: Once you have obtained perfectly oven roasted chestnuts, remove from the oven and wrap them in a clean tea towel. Allow the wrapped chestnuts to sit in the towel for about 10-15 minutes.
Your perfectly roasted chestnuts are now ready to be served!
Tips, Tricks and Recipe Notes:
Chestnuts are easier to remove from their shell when they are warm. If you have leftover chestnuts, you can peel them and refrigerate them for a day or two. Your peeled chestnuts can also be frozen.