Wednesday, December 06, 2006
I have no open fire, nor is Jack Frost anywhere near my Angeleno nose, but roasted chestnuts are a swell treat for the holiday season. This time of year, bunches of nuts in their shell turn up at your local grocery store, and my local Albertson's carries piles of chestnuts.
Unlike walnuts and pecans, you shouldn't eat chestnuts without roasting them first, which couldn't be easier. Preheat your oven to about 375. Cut a small X in the skin of each chestnut with a sharp knife, otherwise you'll have exploding nuts, which puts a damper on the holidays. Place in an oven proof dish, and roast for about 15-2o minutes, until the skin starts to curl back (see picture above). Wait until they cool, then peel.
The sweet, slightly soft nutmeats work well in a risotto, or sprinkled on a salad--you can toast them first if you like. I first encountered them in Jamie Oliver's recipe for Pumpkin, Sage, Chestnut and Bacon Risotto, a ridiculously rich and complicated dish that's easily simplified and modified (see the kabocha squash, chanterelle and chestnut risotto pictured below).