Sunday, October 23, 2011

Roasted chestnuts

Jack and I like to visit a particular park here in Santa Rosa around this time of year because it has three glorious chestnut trees that drop these little babies. We spend time looking for good, shiny nuts beneath the trees and maybe even pick some from the trees and husk them for our collection.

Well, yesterday we weren't alone in our chestnut gathering. A man showed up all prepared with a plastic bag to collect some too. Luckily, there were more than enough to go around. Now, onto roasting.

I've never actually roasted my own chestnuts before. The first time I ever had them was while walking the streets of Rome in winter, where they are sold in the infamous paper cones. People just drop the shells in the street. I remember wondering how all the Italian women, in their amazing high-heeled boots didn't trip on them. How do European women navigate those cobblestone streets in heels?
I've seen chestnuts roasted in a coffee roaster...those were good, but the ones in those street 'ovens' seem to do the best job.
I've found lots of simple directions for roasting these babies in the oven. I've excerpted some directions from a Smitten Kitchen recipe below.

Preheat oven to 450°F. Cut a small X on the top of each chestnut with a very sharp knife. Don’t be afraid to cut into the “meat” of the chestnut a little; I found that the the ones that were the most easy to peel start with a deep enough cut that the skin peels back while roasting. Roast chestnuts on a baking sheet for about 20 to 30 minutes, until a darker shade of brown and the X peels back to reveal the inner nut.
Cool on tray and then peel.
 I'll let you know how they turn out...

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