November 15, 2011

How To: Roasted Chestnuts

Have any of you actually eaten a roasted chestnut? There's The Christmas Song (aka Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire) about them that we hear every year, but for the majority of my life, that was all I knew about them.

Turns out, they're delicious! As an added bonus, they automatically make your house smell like the holidays!

My in-laws have a chestnut tree in their backyard & this is the second year that they shared the nuts with us. It's probably the last year, too, as the fall snow storm severely damaged the tree.

It's not hard to roast the chestnuts at all. If you know anyone with a tree, it's practically free, but even if you don't, they aren't overly expensive to buy, either.

First, you score each chestnut with an X. You want to cut the skin all the way through so that they're easier to peel. Last year, I just barely cut them & it took me forever to get them open. This time, I cut them with scissors - push the tips into the side of the chestnut & close the blades, then repeat to form an X. Unless you're trying to have perfect, whole chestnuts, it's okay to cut into the meat. You'll see a white X on the roasted nut later, but it doesn't change the taste.

They bake in the oven for about 30 minutes & make the house smell delicious!

As soon as they come out & cool enough to handle, it's time to peel them. While they are still warm, the nut is pliable so you can squeeze the shell to break them open at the X's. As they start to cool, you'll notice that peeling them gets a lot harder. If they cool too much, just stick them back in the oven for about 10 minutes to warm up again.

Ta-da! A big bowl of roasted chestnuts to enjoy!

Roasted Chestnuts

1 lb. chestnuts (or as many as desired)

Preheat oven to 350*F. Use scissors to score chestnuts with an X, making sure to cut all the way through the outer skin. Be cautious as to not cut yourself. Lay chestnuts in a single layer on baking sheets (use as many as needed for the amount of chestnuts you have). Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the outer skin peels back around the X. Remove from oven & let cool briefly. As soon as the chestnuts are cool enough to handle, peel off the outer skin. Store chestnuts in a loosely covered container (not air-tight) for up to 2 weeks at room temperature. They can be frozen in a freezer bag for future use for up to 1 year.

Note if you are using naturally grown chestnuts: as you score them, check for little holes. If they have holes, they have worms, so just get rid of them right away. After you bake them, there may still be a few duds, so if you see one that's black or white or just looks a little off, don't eat it. Better safe than sorry!


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