Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Roasted Chestnuts


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).



13 comments:

Angie said...

Mmm, I love roasting chestnuts in the fall/winter time. My least favorite part is cutting the "x" - it feels like I'm about 1 second away from slicing my finger!

Jill said...

WOW! Those roasted chestnuts look so neat!

Erin S. said...

angie--yeah, that's why I make the husband do it--he's a bit more steady with a knife than me :)

Jill--you'll have to look for them at ralph's or albertson's in pasadena--and you DO have an open fire, which would be fun!

cookiecrumb said...

Everybody knows a turkey.

(Quote from song ! Honest!)

Mimi said...

Oh, that looks tempting. Believe it or not, chestnuts are not easy to find in Wisconsin supermarkets, but I will do my darnedest to hunt some up so I can try this.

Lovely idea!

Anonymous said...

i've never roasted my own chestnuts, but how festive! and i love me my risotto!

Anonymous said...

Hi
I was poking around for instructions on how to roast chestnuts and found this site. We live in far NW Florida. A couple of days ago, I was taking a break from my studio and decided to take a walk around the 25-odd acres our house sits on. I was walking next to a certain tree when a sudden gust of wind shook the tree. A moment later, I was narrowly missed by several wicked-looking thorny spheres larger than a tennis ball which was dislodged from the tree by the wind. I looked at the ground and saw dozens of these thorny beasts lying around, some of which had split open to reveal the largest chestnuts I've ever seen. I managed to fill a 5 gallon bucket nearly half way with nuts. My first attempt at roasting was completely successful and they were great. (I hadn't eaten chestnuts in about 40 years!) I'm roasting another pan of them for my wife right now.

mannorama said...

I have a chestnut roaster, but like to cut a lengthwise slit in the round part, lay them on a heavy duty roasting pan, sprinkle liberally with water, and roast for 15-20 minutes. I then broil then for 1 - 1 1/2 minutes (keep an eye on it) and wrap them in a teatowel. After 5 minutes in crush them and distribute among bowls.

Being Hungarian, chestnuts were a staple of growing up. We extract the meat, mix it with rum, put in through a gringer, and top with whip cream! Yum!

You can also buy chestnut puree in specialty stores (rather expensive, perhaps ten dollars a can but delish!)

Enjoy... the season is nigh!

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