Until about a week ago, I did not know chestnuts were eaten by humans. In my mind, they were among the ranks of acorns. And those poisonous red berries that always look so pretty.
“But Charli,” you say, “There are whole songs written about chestnuts. Roasting chestnuts! On open fires! Did you not realize at any point in your lifetime of singing such songs that people eat the things?!” My answer, dear readers, is a humble “no.” To me, edible chestnuts were no different than “Frosty the Snowman,” a “Yellow Submarine,” or “Fuzzy Wuzzie” (the hairless bear): things that bring you much joy in the singing, but also things that obviously are not real. Obviously.
So you can imagine my shock to realize that yes, chestnuts are edible, and even more importantly yes, people do actually eat them. Unbelievable!
Upon this revelation, I did what any normal, computer literate person would do. I reached out to the internet to show me the way.
Apparently all it takes to roast chestnuts (once you have turned the oven on to 425) is to cut through their shell (which I found remarkable easy to do with just a steak knife. In different places on the internet, people tell you different things about this. Some places recommend cutting in an “X” while some just tell you to do a single straight line. I did about half and half, and as expected, it was easier to peel the ones with the “X.” A little bit more work at the beginning saves a little bit of work at the end, but really this is a matter of personal preference.
Then you throw the little suckers on a baking sheet and toss them in the oven for 20-40 minutes. To me, that sounds like a large time discrepancy, but a lot depends on the size of your chestnuts and your desired done-ness. After you pull them out, let them cool slightly and then peel them before they get completely cool. Word on the street is that they are harder to peel in the ‘completely cooled’ state. Also, you may have noticed (via my pictures) that I did this on a SilPat. In retrospect, this was silly and unnecessary, but you never know what might happen when cooking magical, mythical things like chestnuts.
So what do you do with roasted chestnuts (other than eating them straight, of course)? That’s what I’m aiming to find out. I’ll be posting my new favorite way to have them shortly but until then, tell me: How do you like your chestnuts?