How to Roast and Peel Chestnuts At Home
If Nat King Cole softly crooning "chestnuts roasting on an open fire, Jack Frost nipping at your nose" doesn't get you in the holiday spirit, I don't know what will.
Have you ever thought about roasting chestnuts at home? It's easier than you think. Here's how to perfectly roast your own chestnuts:
What Are Roasted Chestnuts?
Roasted chestnuts are, well, chestnuts that have been roasted. The aptly named snack is a popular street food in East Asian countries, parts of Europe, and New York City. They're especially common in the fall and winter seasons. The opening lyric of "The Christmas Song" has ensured that roasted chestnuts are particularly associated with the holidays.
What Do Roasted Chestnuts Taste Like?
Chestnuts are crunchy and bitter when raw, but become sweet, buttery, and soft when roasted. Some people find the flavor reminiscent of a cooked sweet potato.
Where to Buy Chestnuts for Roasting
Find raw chestnuts at your local grocery store or farmers' market. If you want to skip the cooking process completely, you can buy packages of pre-roasted, peeled, and seasoned chestnuts in the nut aisle or on Amazon.
How to Roast Chestnuts In the Oven
This is the one of the easiest ways to roast chestnuts. You can find a detailed recipe with temperatures, measurements, and roasting times here, but here's a general step-by-step guide for making oven-roasted chestnuts:
- Cut an X into the round side of each chestnut. Do not skip this step - if you don't score the nuts before cooking, they may explode. Use a sharp knife to cut through the shell until you hit the chestnut meat.
- Arrange the nuts on a baking sheet (X side up) on a baking rack or on a foil-lined baking sheet. Roast them somewhere between 375 degrees F and 425 degrees F until the skin has darkened and has started to peel back from the cuts.
- The chestnuts should be soft enough to peel when they come out of the oven (go ahead and peel them once they're cool enough to safely touch - if you wait too long, it'll be hard to separate the shell from the meat). Just pinch the skin and pull off the hard shells. They should snap right off. Also peel away the papery skin that's found between the shell and the meat.
Get the recipe: Roasted Chestnuts
How to Roast Chestnuts Over an Open Fire
Take a page from Nat King Cole's book and roast your chestnuts the old-fashioned way: Over an open fire. It's not exactly the most convenient method for modern homecooks, but it's surely a great (and delicious) way to get into the holiday spirit.
- I said it once (see above) and I'll say it again: Cut an X into the round side of each chestnut. Do not skip this step - if you don't score the nuts before cooking, they may explode. Use a sharp knife to cut through the shell until you hit the chestnut meat.
- Go outside and get a fire going. Bonus points for rusticness if you have a fire pit, but a lit grill will work just fine here.
- Place the scored chestnuts (X side up) in a seasoned cast iron pan. Set the pan over the flame and let the nuts roast for five minutes or so, then stir. Let the nuts continue roasting, stirring occasionally, for another five or so minutes.
- Once they're cool enough to safely touch, pinch the skin and pull the hard shells until they snap off. Peel away the papery skin that's found between the shell and the meat.