Let’s roast us some chestnuts!
Chestnuts come from the European Chestnut tree, which is related to oak and beech trees, and we’re all familiar with Nat King Cole’s Christmas song about roasting chestnuts on an open fire.
Roasting chestnuts is something I’d never done until yesterday…turns out I’ve been missing out on something completely awesome!
By the way, “water chestnuts” are a completely unrelated food that comes from a water-based plant.
Chestnuts have an amazing food history, but I want to keep this video short, I’ll just say, if you want to read about them, go type “Chestnut” into Wikipedia.
The flavor of these oven-roasted chestnuts is very mild, slightly sweet, and completely addictive.
Oven Roasted Chestnuts
2 pounds fresh un-shelled chestnuts
2-3 sprigs rosemary
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
2 teaspoons (or more) kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Preheat you’re oven to 425 degrees, and give the chestnuts a quick rinse.
Cut a little X on the round side of the husk, and I like to use a small serrated knife for this. this is called “scoring”, which will let steam release during the roasting process. Set each chestnut flat-side down, and just cut a shallow X across the top.
I’m use a small hand-towel or bar-mop down on my cutting board, this can help keep things from sliding around while you’re cutting.
The chestnut doesn’t really have a shell, per say, buy more like a thick outer skin, and a thinner inner skin.
Next, soak your chestnuts in a bowl of very hot water. This will softens the husk some, and add some moisture for the steaming process.
By the way, Chestnuts are much lower in calories that other nuts, they have no cholesterol, are very low in fat, and they’re gluten free! They’re also the only nut that contains vitamin C, and lots of it.
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Place your scored chestnuts in a large bowl and, for two pounds of chestnuts, pour in 1 stick of melted butter.
Remove the leaves from 2-3 sprigs of fresh rosemary, and add to the bowl.
Next, sprinkle with two teaspoons of salt and one teaspoon of pepper. If that seems like a lot of salt, remember that most of it is going on the husks, which we’re going to remove.
Mix well to combine the seasonings and evenly coat the chestnuts with butter.
Next, we’re going to pour out our chestnuts in a SINGLE LAYER (that’s very important) on a foil-lined baking sheet. Gather up the edges of the foil, on all four sides, leaving a small opening in the top for steam to escape.
Roast between 45-60 minutes, until the cut edges of the husk begins to curl up, and then remove them from the heat, and let them rest another 15 minutes, still covered in foil.
Once the edges have curled up, they shouldn’t be TOO difficult on the thumbs to peel. I’m not going to lie to you, the husks toughen up while roasting, and those edges get sharp. It might not be a bad idea to wear some kitchen gloves for this part.
After you’ve removed the husk, and the inner skin, everything left is sweet, edible meat.
Transfer your chestnuts to a plate or platter, use a spatula to scrape in any butter and spices left in the pan over them, season with more salt, if desired, and toss them a bit to coat.
Serve hot or warm.