You know the song, right? It’s called “The Christmas Song,” but most of us know it as “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire.” I have heard that song all my life, but I had never eaten a chestnut. I figured they were like walnuts or something, and couldn’t figure out how in the world a nut got an entire Christmas song to itself. I mean, I get peppermint having a song, or even gingerbread. But chestnuts? Clearly, some political move from the chestnut lobby.
So when our Produce Box arrived last week with a bag of chestnuts from a local farm, I thought it would be a good time to see what all the hype was about. I decided to make a chestnut sausage stuffing for Thanksgiving and to prep the chestnuts, I would roast them not over an open fire (torrential rain here), but in the oven. I was a bit intimidated by the whole “cut an x in the nut shell or it will explode” business, but it all turned out well. I have a little serrated paring knife that worked very well at cutting through the shell, and nothing exploded inside my oven (which is good because calling a repair person the week of Thanksgiving is a good way to end up with a dinner of grilled cheese).
After cutting the X into each shell, I put the nuts (cut side up) in a cake pan and popped them into a 450 degree oven for 30 minutes. Here are the before and after photos:
I let the roasted nuts cool for 10 minutes before peeling them and that was ample time. The nut shells came off quite easily and were tossed into the compost bin. I tasted one of the warm nuts, and couldn’t believe how meaty it tasted. Wow! I tried another one in case the first was some kind of abberation. Delicious! It took a great deal of self-control not to eat all of them and adjust my stuffing recipe to suit pecans. In fact, the next time I see them offered by The Produce Box, I am going to order more. Talk about great football snacks!
So now when I hear “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire” this holiday season, I will have a better frame of reference. And I’ve tried a new local farm product this week, too! Hope the rest of the chestnuts make it to Thursday 🙂
- Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.
- With a sharp paring knife, score an “x” on the flat side of the nut, cutting through the shell.
- Put the nuts, cut side up, in a roasting pan or other shallow, oven-safe pan.
- Roast the chestnuts for 20-30 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and let nuts cool for about 10 minutes.
- Peel the shells from the nut meat and discard the shells.
- Use the nuts immediately or refrigerate for up to three days.