Have you ever had freshly roasted chestnuts? We all sing about them at the holidays, I know, but I'd never actually had them until a few years ago, when we were vacationing in Naples, Italy, in the winter. The weather was pretty mild that far south, but still chilly, especially at night. Chestnut vendors set up small braziers on the sidewalk, and would sell the most amazing, fragrant, enticing, hot, freshly roasted chestnuts. It was an amazing experience.
I was so excited when I saw bags of fresh chestnuts at the grocery store last year, and couldn't wait to bring them home and try my hand at roasting them myself. I haven't seen any this year, so I ordered a few pounds from L&E Farms in Florida. Mmmm, farm fresh chestnuts!
All you need to roast your own chestnuts is an oven, a sharp paring knife, and a baking pan with edges (either a 9x13 pan or a half sheet pan, whatever you have around) the kitchen.
Using a very sharp paring knife, cut a cross into the shell on one side of the nut. And I do mean use a SHARP knife; these things are slippery, and roundish, and hard, and if you are using a dull knife, this could be a very dangerous step.
Place the scored nuts in a pan, and bake in the oven for 35 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Easy to remember! I love it when a recipe calls for 35 minutes at 350 degrees.
Peel and eat them while they're still warm from the oven. The meat of the chestnut is firm, but not hard, and deliciously sweet and satisfying. Give it a try this holiday season!
This year I want to get a long-handled chestnut roasting pan, and try it over an open fire! Or maybe in the pizza oven. But flames will be involved, that much I know.