Roast Your Own Chestnuts This Holiday Season

The flavour and aroma of roasted chestnuts is unique, delicious and a true holiday tradition. Here’s how to roast your own whether you’re using an oven or an open flame.

Chestnuts became an icon of the holidays because their growing season is perfectly timed to be harvested over Christmas-time. If you’ve never had a freshly roasted chestnut pulled from an open fire (an oven has less ambience, but it works just as well) then trust us, you’ve been missing out.
Chestnuts are actually less nutty and more ‘sweet potato-ey’. They have a sweetness and starchiness to them that is satisfying and addictive. And for those of you who love to be by the open fire… you get to fulfil your desires in a delicious way. So without further ado…

How to Roast Chestnuts Over an Open Fire

What you’ll need :

  • Chestnuts of course. We recommend the Marroni variety as they’re sweeter, juicier and easier to open once cooked. If you can’t find Marroni Chestnuts, Castagne are the next best and also popular for roasting. Look for blemish-free (as blemishes can indicate mold), smooth and shiny chestnuts. If you can get chestnuts all of a similar size that will help turn out a good batch because smaller chestnuts will roast much faster than larger ones.
  • Something to roast them in. You’ll have a lot of options here that all could work. A cast iron skillet, a long-handled popcorn roaster, a fireplace shovel, or even metal skewers (if you’re feeling industrious and patient) will work. There are also roasting pans out there that are specially made for roasting chestnuts. These are great because they enclose the nuts and let you rattle the nuts around to give them a more even roast while protecting your eye-brows and eye-lashes from being singed. If all else fails, take an old pan that’s seen better days and drill a bunch of holes in the bottom of it (20-40 depending on the size of the pan).

How to do it :

  • Prepare the chestnuts by washing them with cold water and patting them dry. You MUST score an X on each chestnut. This will allow steam and heat to escape and prevent them from exploding in your face. It also creates a beautiful looking final product as the edges of the cuts curl away from the flesh todisplay the delicious meat inside. When you’re cutting the chestnut, make sure to penetrate the outer and inner layer of shell, but don’t cut the meat. It’ll take a few tries, but you’ll get the hang of it.
  • You can use a fireplace or a firepit, doesn’t matter as long as you’ve allowed the fire to burn down until it is just a pile of glowing embers.
  • Place the chestnuts in your roasting pan in a single layer. Don’t overcrowd them, they all need an equal exposure to the heat. You don’t need to add any oil or butter, the chestnuts contain their own delicious oils that give them their distinct flavour.
  • Cover the chestnuts with a lid, or close them in the device you’re using and place them over the embers. They need to hover over the embers, not be buried in them. After 5 minutes of roasting time give them a shake or a stir and repeat until they look done. This will take about 25 minutes depending on how large the nuts are.
  • The chestnuts are ready when the X cut begins to open and you start to hear little popping noises.
  • Remove the chestnuts from the heat and allow them to cool for 15 minutes. You can then peel away the outer shell and reveal the delight that is inside.

How to Roast Chestnuts in the Oven

What you’ll need:

  • Instructions for buying great chestnuts for roasting are the same as above.
  • A roasting pan or cookie sheet.

How to do it:

  • Preheat your oven to 350F.
  • After washing and cutting the X into all the nuts (as outlined above), spread the nuts out evenly on your pan or cookie sheet and put into the oven.
  • They’ll need to roast for approximately 45 minutes, and you should give them a shake every 10 minutes or so to give them all an even roast.
  • Pull them from the oven when finished and transfer them to a tea towel. Cover them and allow them to cool for 10 minutes before peeling and serving.

And that’s all folks! It’s easy, its fun, and it will warm your hearts with holiday joy.