Chestnut season will always be something special for me. The smell of the freshly roasted chestnuts from the street side vendors that start to pop up from middle of October onwards but also, that my brother and myself used to gather as many chestnuts as we could off the nearby trees and sell them to the zoological park where they were used to feed venison and other game during the winter months.
In good years there was quite a bit of “Christmas bonus” to be made that way. Freshly roasted chestnuts are very nutritious. Unlike most other nuts they are low in fat and sodium, while having considerable amounts of protein, vitamin C, iron and potassium.
Certainly a different treat, than the chocolates and candies kids regularly eat during the festive season.
- heavy skillet
- sharp tipped pairing knife
- char coal fire
- When choosing your chestnuts at the market they should be firm, dry, deep brown in color and glossy. When shaking the chestnut, the nut inside the shell should not be loose and therefore there should be no “rattling” sound.
- With the tip of a pairing knife, score each chestnut on the under, flatter side or on the side of it. Although it depends on what you will use them for later, generally speaking the round upper side needs to be intact. Whilst roasting chestnuts will release stem and if they are not scored, they will explode.
- Preheat your oven to 220 °C (425 °F).
- Place the scored chestnuts in a heavy skillet or baking sheet bake in the oven (or above the charcoal fire). Shake the pan a couple of times while baking for approximately 15-20 minutes or until the shell starts to separate from the nut, revealing the golden brown, roasted chestnut.
- Remove the chestnuts from the oven and let cool a little until you can handle them easily.
- Peel off the shell and the brown inner skin.
- The chestnuts are now ready to eat or can be further processed in a puree for desserts, glazed/caramelized as an garnish to the Christmas turkey or candied and preserved.