How to Roast Chestnuts
December 05, 2018
If you’ve never eaten one, the texture of a roasted chestnut can be revelatory. It’s not crisp or crunchy, like you’d expect a nut to be, but dense and almost powdery soft. The flavor is wondrous too: They have an earthy sweetness, not unlike an acorn squash. Here we’ve finished them with olive oil, flake salt, and torn sage, creating a savory, lightly sweet snack that’s oddly addictive — we found ourselves returning to the bowl again and again to dredge the warm chestnuts through the salt.
Why is it that so few of us have yet to try roasting chestnuts? They have a bad reputation: It can be a bear to break them out of their shells. But not if you know what you’re doing! We’ll show you how to prep the nuts like the pros do, so that the shells peel right open, and you can remove them with a modicum of effort.
Our tips: Chestnut knives make slicing the shells easier, and you can find them both online and at kitchen supply stores. Steaming the nuts at the end of roasting will make them easier to peel, but don’t let them sit too long because they’re much easier to peel (and even better to eat) when they’re warm.
Oh yes, and get some friends or family involved, many hands make the peeling go faster!
1 lb raw chestnuts in the shell
2 cups water
3 thyme sprigs
Extra virgin olive oil
Sage for garnish
- Preheat your oven to 425º.
- To prepare your chestnuts, grasp them firmly between your thumb and index finger, and carefully make an X in 2 long slices across the rounded top of the chestnut with a chestnut knife (or a sharp serrated bread knife). Be careful, the shell is slippery. You should be able to slice it in one motion. If you have trouble cutting through it, use a gentle sawing motion; don't force the blade down, or you run the risk of cutting your hand.
- In a small saucepan, cover the chestnuts with water and bring them to a simmer over medium-high heat. Once the water begins to simmer, remove the chestnuts, using a mesh strainer or slotted spoon, and transfer them to a cast-iron skillet.
- Add the thyme sprigs to the skillet, and roast in the oven for 15 minutes, or until the chestnut’s shells begin to peel back.
- In a medium bowl, cover the chestnuts with a towel for 15 minutes, allowing them to steam a bit, which will make them easier to peel.
- Peel the shell and dark skin from chestnuts, and toss any discolored or spoiled nuts.
- Finish the chestnuts with a drizzle of olive oil, flake salt, and ripped sage.