For me, no other snack signals the arrival of Christmas as much as the chestnut. These delicious nuts can be found on dinner tables and street corners throughout the month of December, and for good reason; they’re fantastic!
“♫ Chestnuts roasting on an open fire. Jack Frost nipping at your nose. ♫” – Every person in the shower around Christmas and also Nat King Cole
Here’s how you can make them yourself in the comfort of your own home.
Step 1: Selecting the right chestnuts
It’s extremely important that you pick good quality chestnuts. You don’t want to go through the trouble of roasting them only to find out that they’re moldy and spoiled (it’s happened to me and it’s horrible).
When looking for the perfect chestnut, you’ll need to make sure they’re smooth and free of any bruises or discoloured spots. More importantly, you’ll want to make sure they’re firm to the touch. Give them a squeeze and if there is any give, throw them back. This is the telltale sign of a moldy chestnut.
Step 2: Preparing the nuts for cooking
Before cooking the chestnuts you’ll need to cut the shells (unless you want to have them explode in your face). Take the nuts and cut an X into them with a sharp knife, making sure that the shell is fully pierced. This will ensure that the chestnut has room to expand.
Step 3: Cooking
There are three main ways to cook chestnuts:
Method 1 – Baking
Start by preheating the oven to 425℉. Place the chestnuts on a baking sheet and cook for approximately 35 to 40 minutes. You should shake the pan every 10 to 15 minutes to ensure they are evenly cooked and don’t burn.
Method 2 – Boiling
Place the chestnuts in a deep pot and fully submerge with water. Bring the water to a boil and cook the chestnuts for 35 to 40 minutes or until they turn soft.
This method might take away some of the flavour, so I like to use my mother-in-law’s recipe and add anise and salt to the water (1-2 tbs of each for every 2 pounds of chestnuts)
Method 3 – Roasting on an open fire
This method might be a little impractical, especially on those dark cold winter nights, but if you’re able to find yourself an open fire, this would be the way to do it. Conversely, you could also use an open fire place – just don’t burn your house down!
Find yourself a , , or a cast iron pan with a very long handle. Place the chestnuts in the roaster and hold them over the fire (but not in the fire). Shake every 5 minutes or so to avoid burning them. This method should yield delicious chestnuts in 20 to 30 minutes.
Step 4: Enjoy
Wait a couple of minutes for the nuts to cool down slightly, peel, add appropriate Christmas music, and enjoy with friends and family.
Now that you’re an expert chestnut roaster, you can sing along to Christmas songs with pride!