"Chestnuts roasting on an open fire" (the lyrics to "The Christmas Song") conjures images of warmth and good cheer. With a little preparation and attention, it is easy to roast chestnuts and replicate those good vibes home.
Chestnuts are the large edible fruit of the chestnut tree and are a popular food in Europe and China. Roasting chestnuts produces a delicate and slightly sweet flavor while softening the texture to potato-like consistency. But roasting is just one way to treat a chestnut.
They can be candied or ground into a flour, and they are often puréed and sweetened to make desserts like this Hungarian recipe for Gesztenyepüré (known as Mont Blanc in France) and this Croatian Chocolate Cream Torte Recipe.
- 1/2 pound chestnuts (unpeeled, unroasted)
- Heat oven to 425 F.
- Find the flat side of each chestnut and cut a large X with a sharp paring knife all the way through the skin. Otherwise, if not pierced, they can potentially explode from the internal pressure.
- Place chestnuts on a shallow baking pan and place in the oven to roast for about 30 to 40 minutes, depending on the size of the nuts. Shake pan several times to rotate chestnuts so they will cook evenly.
- If you just want them cooked enough to peel, roast for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Peel roasted chestnuts as soon as they are cool enough to handle. Once they cool completely, they are difficult to peel. However, they may be reheated briefly to aid in peeling.
- Chestnuts also can be roasted on an outdoor grill by placing pierced chestnuts on an aluminum pie plate that has been punched with rows of holes. Place the pie plate over the white-hot coals and grill. Watch carefully and turn them often. To roast them in a fire, as the song says, it helps if you have a chestnut roaster for the fireplace.
- Another favorite method for small amounts is to roast them on the stovetop, particularly on a gas stove. Place on top of a flame-tamer and cover with a deep lid. Roast over low heat until done, about 10 minutes, turning often to cook evenly.
More About Chestnuts and Chestnut Recipes
- Chestnut History: Did you know in Europe, Asia, and Africa, chestnuts are often used as an everyday potato substitute? Read more fun facts about this nut.
- Chestnut Equivalents, Measures and Substitutions: Read how to convert proportions of fresh chestnuts to canned whole chestnuts to chestnut purée and vice versa in recipes.
- Raw Chestnuts Warning: People with severe intestinal problems, kidney problems, liver disease and those who are pregnant should avoid raw chestnuts because of the high tannin levels in this nut. Only boiled or roasted chestnuts are safe to eat in these cases.