I discovered roasted chestnuts when courting my wife Kim in the UK, in 1995. We had just visited the British Museum and spied a chestnut vendor, of which in the colder months there are hundreds all around the city of London. Having never tried them before, we bought a bag and found that they were just simply delicious, even though we ended up with charcoal all over our hands.
Back in Australia, these tasty morsels are a self serve option, and I rarely see a street vendor selling them. So when Kim’s friend gave us a bag I jumped at the chance to roast some up.
Now remembering the black, sooty fingers on my last encounter, I decided to scour the net in search of an easy, clean method of roasting chestnuts in our kitchen oven. I found one, and this is how I went about it.
Firstly I washed the chestnuts in cold water to remove any mould or dirt. Then turn your oven on and preheat to 220C or 425F.
Then with a sharp bread knife score the shell of the curved side until you just touch the nut. It is pretty easy and you can tell when you are through. I have heard some people use a cross, but I think this was much safer.
Put them in a pan and just cover with water, and bring to the simmer.
Once simmered, take them out and put into a roasting tray. The chestnuts have split open a little wider.
Set 15 minutes up on the timer. and pop into the preheated oven.
Once roasted, then cover with a clean tea towel and rest for another 5 minutes. This helps to steam them a little which helps removed the shell cleanly.
Remove the cover and start peeling. Any chestnuts that are black on the inside discard as they are rotten and taste foul (I know, I ate one thinking that it was just over cooked).
Only the creamy coloured ones are good for eating, however I don’t think it would hurt the chooks any if I gave the black ones to them.
The chestnuts peel so easily with this method, and look no black, sooty hands.
Here are a few that I peeled for myself and Ben. Kim had already scoffed her share by then! So delicious and so simple to cook. It took me about 30 minutes from start to finish, not including the eating which happened in only two minutes.
Luckily I kept some more aside for tomorrow night! Yum. So if you have a chestnut tree in your neighbourhood, scrump a few bag fulls, and roast them up. They are so nice on a cold evening.
I wish I could find a tree close by. The owners would be my next best friend.