Saturday, November 19, 2011

Roasted Chestnuts

I love roasted chestnuts. And if you ask me, I think they're underrated. Sure, they open up The Christmas Song and sometimes make an appearance in your stuffing on Thanksgiving. But I think they make an excellent snack. They're all warm and starchy and a little sweet. And they're kind of fun to peel (or a giant pain in the ass, depending on your outlook).

Chestnuts are also low in fat and contain protein, antioxidants, minerals and vitamins C & E. They're cholesterol-free and gluten-free too. So go nuts! Oh yeah, and they're also an actual nut, so if you're allergic, I suggest making popcorn. That's my solution to most problems (you'd be surprised how often it works).


fresh, raw chestnuts

1.     Preheat oven to 425º F.

2.     Wipe the chestnuts with a damp towel. Using a sharp paring knife (preferably serrated), cut a large X in the rounded side of each chestnut (all the way through the skin).

3.     Place chestnuts on a baking sheet in a single layer (X side up) and roast for about 25 minutes, or until shells have opened and insides are golden brown.

4.     Peel as soon as they are cool enough to handle, but still warm. (If you wait until they cool completely, they’re almost impossible to peel.)

Look for large, shiny, dark brown, firm ones with no holes.
Chestnuts can get moldy if they're too old, so don't buy them
if they look discolored in any way and give them the
old sniff test too (sometimes you can actually smell it).
cutting an X

The X allows steam to escape (they WILL explode
without it). It also makes them easier to peel.
X'd and ready to roast
roasted chestnuts

You can see there's a fuzzy "skin"
on the inside, just under the shell.
Usually the skin pulls up, along with the shell.
But sometimes it's stubborn and hard to remove.
peeling a chestnut

I was lucky, this batch was very easy to peel.
They're kind of like oranges or eggs, they can be
very easy, but sometimes ridiculously hard.

If you make a very large batch, keep some
warm with tin foil while you're peeling the others.
shelled chestnuts
When I'm cooking with chestnuts, I sometimes buy
them already roasted in a vacuum sealed pouch or jar.
As you can see, they do look much darker than the
freshly roasted batch. They're both delicious, but
the ones from the pouch are moister (and obviously
much quicker and easier). I like them for recipes,
but prefer freshly roasted for snacking.

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