On of my favorite things about this time of year--and there are many!
is the very special treat of roasting chestnuts with the kids.
Sadly, we don't do roast them over an open fire, (just in the oven)
But they are so good and we love them.
They are this kind of warm, buttery, nutty, chewy
experience that you don't really get anywhere else.
I like them especially--because
family, long ago, tended to chestnut groves in Italy.
And then there is that song...they just really are a nice little emblem of the holiday season to me.
They can be intimidating if you have never had them before, but its
really a cinch to whip up a batch.
Typically, instructions call for you to make an "x"
with a small sharp knife on the round part of the shell.
That sounds dangerous to me.
I prefer to use a bread knife--holding the chestnut (the pointy part and the flatter part) between
thumb and forefinger..rocking bread knife just until I am able to make a nice straight line cut piercing the shell but not going too deep. Cut should be almost as long as the side width of the shell.
Then, sometimes, I place them in a saute pan, cover with cold water and a pinch of salt and bring to a simmer...
Sometimes--I skip that step and I just throw them straight on the baking sheet with out the mild par-boil. Either way, I then roast them at 425 degrees for 15-20 mins. Be sure to rotate pan half way thru.
When they come out, the cut splits open just a little bit and that is how you are able to peel off the shell. But if you put them, right out of the oven, into a bowl and over with a dish towel for another 10-15 min...this helps to make them even more easier to peel...which is nice...
They should just pop right out of the shell, but they may not all be so agreeable...
But no matter...how ever you get them out, you will enjoy their rich, buttery flavor.
I love eating chestnuts because there is something very old fashioned about the whole process and I just love that we only eat them this time of year.
They sell them at Whole Foods and Trader Joe's by the bag.
If you are having friends over for dinner, they are wonderful to pull out of the oven for
a fun little appetizer....with a seasonal cocktail, of course!