Roasted Chestnuts

Roasted Chestnuts

The weather was foul. Steel grey clouds were threatening to send us even more pesky snow, and icy winds cut through us like sharp blades. You guessed it. We were in London. It was December 1997, my first trip to Europe. Outside the British Museum my father dragged my mother and me to a street vendor. In a few seconds I was holding a piping hot, brown paper bag in my hands. My father took one foreign looking object out of the bag and showed me how to peel it, revealing a pale caramel flesh. It was my turn to try one. The chestnut was soft, crumbly and sweet. I was hooked.

Since then I have moved to England and can never grow tired of chestnuts when they arrive on the shops’ shelves. Seeing them is a confirmation to me that winter and the holiday season are coming. No worries though, I’ve got my warm, starchy goodies to snack on during long, cold nights.

P.S. This healthy snack is submitted to the monthly Heart of the Matter blog event. It will also join the monthly CLICK event in December.

Roasted Chestnuts
Preparation: 5 mins – Cooking: 20-30 mins

Roasted Chestnuts

  • chestnuts, as many nuts as you reckon you can eat
  1. Preheat oven to 200°C (fan 180°C/400°F/gas 6).
  2. Using a very sharp knife (and being very careful not to cut yourself), cut a 2.5cm/1 inch cross into one side of each nut. The intent is to allow steam to escape gently instead of by explosion, which can be very messy.
  3. Put in a roasting tin and bake until the skins open and the insides are tender after about 20-30 minutes.
  4. Hot chestnuts peel easier than cold ones, so it’s best to eat right away. So when you remove them from the heat, immediately cover them with a towel and keep them covered as you remove one at a time to peel. Peel away the skin and the pithy white bit inside to get to the sweet kernel. If you are sharing with people, make everybody peel their own!

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  1. Lucas says

    Use a higher temp. around 350 works better.

    Also, a single long cut along the flat side works best instead of a cross. That is how the vendors cut them all over Europe, and for a good reason. They are much easier and faster to shell.

  2. says

    I recently picked up a chestnut roasting pan at a bargain price. It looks like a normal frying pan – but has holes all over the base. I score my chestnuts along the flat side, then cook them in the pan over a medium flame. Gorgeous! They get proper blackened on the outside, and I reckon they taste more like the ones I used to get when Christmas shopping as a kid!

  3. David says

    “Use a higher temp. around 350 works better”

    Um, the 200-degree temperature is centigrade, about 400 degrees Fahrenheit. 350 degrees centigrade would be 660 F and higher than most home ovens go, no?

  4. says

    Laura: The open fire roasted chestnuts are the best! If I ever get the opportunity to prepare them that way I will give it a go.

    David: You’re right, 350C doesn’t make sense, because ovens only go in the high 200s? Maybe Lucas meant that we should try it at our ovens’ highest setting? Unfortunately, I’ll only be getting my new oven somewhere in February 2008 (can’t wait). So in the meantime I can’t experiment as much as I would like. By that time, I have a sad feeling that chestnuts would have disappeared by then. Will probably have to wait until the end of 2008.

  5. Bill Barkaie says

    Just to add that my father-in-law (an old Hungarian) always heated his chestnuts on an old wood burning stove, and then ate his chestnuts with whipping cream!! ooh until I saw this article, forgot about how good that was! thanks for the memories – and will definitely will have to go out to get some.

  6. sahar says

    i tried to soak them (after scoring) in cold water for max of 10 min then roast them, the inside will be more tender!! try it !!

  7. Pedro says

    couple of tips from a long-time chestnut eater:

    after you soaked the nuts (as per comment #10), generously salt them (coarse salt, not the fine table salt) before you put them in the oven tray.

    you can re-heat them in the microwave. that way you can roast more than you’re willing to eat right away, peel them while hot, save them, and keep eating them for the following days.

    try eating the nuts with a small amount of butter. you’ll never go back to eating them without.

  8. e lee north says

    i have chestnuts right from the tree (green on outside. Do not know how get green skin off, is it easy? no one addresses this [but they may be horse chestnuts]. HELP

  9. larry says

    To get the prickly outer off, [hopefully ready to be used] is to put-em under foot and gently roll to separate the outer from the nuts. Personally I watch for them to be opening on the tree and wait for them to drop on their own, or the squirrels to knock-em down! Always plenty to be scooped-up. Just watch for small holes in the shells, could be small worms. Also, I don’t keep them long when drop-picking, but use them asap.

  10. David R says

    @e lea north – Horse vs Sweet Chestnuts
    Horse chestnuts have fewer but thornier spikes on the green seed pod, sweet chestnuts have more, softer, woollier spikes on the seed pod.

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