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The Very Best Roasted Chestnuts

The Very Best Roasted Chestnuts

“Chestnuts roasting on an open fire...” The smell of chestnuts roasting - whether over a fire or, more likely, in the oven - evokes so many Christmas memories. Rich, sweet and tender, you can’t beat freshly roasted chestnuts and it is so easy to do. Follow our simple steps for a wonderful festive snack or to make a key ingredient in your stuffing or side dish.

Tips

  • Always buy more chestnuts than you think you’ll need or want as, one they’re cooked and you’re peeling them, you might find that some have turned bad and are inedible.
  • When buying your chestnuts, look for a glossy brown sheen and smooth, unwrinkled shells. They should be firm to the touch and fairly heavy in the hand.
  • Don’t omit the cutting of the cross into the skin at the top of the chestnuts as this allows the steam to escape as they’re roasting. Miss this step out and they are likely to explode in the oven. They are also far easier to peel this way.
  • Try to avoid both over-cooking and under-cooking the chestnuts as this will result in tough flesh and an inner skin that is all but impossible to remove.
  • Be sure to leave your chestnuts to cool enough to be able to peel them without burning your fingers but not so long that they are no longer warm.
  • For an authentic street vendor look, serve the chestnuts in paper bags.

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 200°C/ gas mark 6.
  2. Place the chestnuts on a chopping board, flat side down, and cut a small cross into the skin of each with a small, sharp knife.
  3. Place the chestnuts in a large roasting dish in a single layer, with the cross facing upwards.
  4. Roast for 20-30 minutes, or until the skins have opened around the cross and the flesh is tender and golden.
  5. Remove the dish from the oven and leave to cool for a couple of minutes. When they are just cool enough to touch, peel the tough outer skins and pithy white inner skins from the flesh.

Alternative method

Instead of roasting your chestnuts, you could boil them in unsalted water for 15-20 minutes after cutting the crosses on them. To get that authentic roasted look, drain them well before sticking them under the grill for a few minutes. The advantage of this method is that all of the chestnuts should be edible, other than those which had already spoiled in the bag.

 
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