Recipe: Roasted Chestnuts

Food Photography by Food Photographer Felicia Perretti, New York, Philadelphia

Chestnuts roasting on a open fire might work for some but the oven works just as good. I’ll get into that in a minute but first want to talk about these unique treats. Weeks leading up to Thanksgiving the holidays start filling our heads and seasonal dishes filling our stomachs. A favorite past time treat are roasted chestnuts. To some this seems like a foreign food and only know of it by the famous Nat King Cole melody but chestnuts and the trees they come from date back to the 1900’s in the United States. The American Chestnut Foundation in the early 1980’s wanted to revive the nut in all its glory especially since a terrible fungus earlier destroyed a large amount of the forests containing these trees.
Around the holidays in the US you can find street vendors roasting the chestnuts and selling by the bag. This method of using chestnuts is also vastly popular in Europe!
How I roast chestnuts is I start with the flat side down on a cutting board and make an “X” slit through the skin of the nut. Then I briefly soak the nuts in hot water then drain and dry. Once they are dried I toss the nuts with melted butter, salt, pepper, and sage. I lay them out on a foil lined cookie sheet gathering the edges to create a large opening around the chestnuts. I roast in the oven at 425 degrees for 35 minutes. The skin where you made the “X” should be peeling back. Once removed from the oven let rest till you can touch them and peel back the skin. You want to eat the meaty, buttery inside of the nut.
These nuts can go bad so when shopping for them make sure the skin doesn’t have blemishes. An ideal nut is a vibrant chestnut color, and smooth.

Happy Holidays! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I65_S78WHJY

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