It may be 81° outside, but my calendar says it’s fall. Time for football, sweaters, comfort foods, and chestnuts!
Lucky for me, my aunt’s front yard contains a very large and fruitful chestnut tree. I know it’s a giant pain in the ass for her (the tree stinks, and it drops spiny little pods all over her yard), but it’s great for me!
Yesterday, O and I went over to her house and gathered a grocery bag full of the tasty little nuggets.
Once we got home, I dumped them into a basket. These little guys are way perishable and will mold quickly, so it’s best to use them immediately. I planned to roast them today, so they hung out in this basket over night. As long as air can get to them, they should be ok for a couple of days.
This morning, I parked O in his high chair for breakfast, brewed a pot of coffee, and got to work. Chestnuts can be a bit of a pain to deal with, so I thought it best to get started early.
It’s a good thing, because I didn’t finish until 1:00 and I kind of never want to look at a chestnut again.
If you’re lucky enough to find chestnuts and you want to try your hand at roasting them, here’s how I do it:
Chestnuts, in the shell. As many as you want, just remember that you’ll have to peel them. By hand.
Preheat oven to 400°
Rinse any dirt off of your chestnuts and look them over thoroughly. Discard any that are cracked or have holes.
With a paring knife, CAREFULLY (please don’t cut yohr finger off) cut an X into each nut. Make sure you get all the way through the shell… this will allow steam to escape so they don’t explode in your oven.
Place them in a single layer on a cookie sheet, cut side facing up. Roast for 25 minutes. If you hear a loud pop toward the end of the baking time, don’t worry. They generally don’t make a huge mess when they explode.
When they’re done, let them sit until cool enough to handle…they do tend to peel easier when warm, so try to keep an eye on them. Then comes the fun part! Peel the hard shell and papery layer off of each one. Yes, by hand.
This will wreck your thumbs.
This is what they look like after you’ve peeled them. If you try one now, you might just find yourself eating them as yoh peel them. Fair warning.
It isn’t a super quick process, so you might want to sit at a table. Invite a friend over to help…Just make it sound like it’s super fun. Also, convince your friend that chestnuts are gross so you don’t have to share.
Once they’re all peeled and your fingers are permanently disfigured, you can store them in an airtight container, either in the fridge (only for a couple of days!) or in the freezer (for up to a year). I stuck mine in the freezer so I can use them in a recipe sometime this week.
If they last that long…