Here you’ll learn how to roast chestnuts easily and step by step. When you roast them properly, peeling chestnuts is a breeze, and you won’t have to fight desperately to remove the thin second skin that tastes so astringent and adheres so closely to each and every chestnut.
Chestnuts used to be a staple food in the Mediterranean basin where chestnut trees grow well.
In the Catalan Countries it is traditional to celebrate the Castanyada on All Saints Day, the 1st of November, which consists of eating roasted chestnuts, some delicious sweets called panellets and moscatell sweet wine. Portuguese celebrate St. Martin’s Day with roasted chestnuts and some Italian regions, namely the Toscana, also roast chestnuts to celebrate St Simon’s Day.
For this roasted chestnut recipe you need to buy the European species, the sweet chestnut, also known in the USA as Spanish chestnuts. And because some people ask how you say chestnut in Spanish, here it is, chestnut in Spanish is castaña and the plural is castañas.
- Sweet Chestnuts
How To Roast Chestnuts
- Preheat the oven for about 10 minutes
- Take a cutting board and a knife, and make a cut on the round side of every chestnut. If you are afraid of cutting yourself, use a serrated knife with a short blade. I myself prefer them. There are special chestnut knives, but it is not absolutely necessary that you buy one. A solid serrated knife works fine.
- Scatter the chestnuts on a baking dish with the flat side down. Drizzle drops of water over the chestnuts with your fingers, that is, you put your fingers in a cup full of water and drizzle the water drops over the chestnuts. This step is very important for roasting chestnuts properly.
- Put the baking dish with the chestnuts in the oven at about 400ºF or 200ºC. Place the baking dish as low as possible, that is, as near to the heat source as possible, but not touching it directly.
- Roast the chestnuts for 15 minutes on one side and turn them over. Unless you are roasting chestnuts for a huge crowd, the best way to ensure that they are all evenly roasted is to turn them over one by one.
- Roast them for 12 to 15 more minutes depending on the size and they are ready to be eaten. Unless they are huge don’t let them much longer in the oven or they’ll get very dry and hard.
- Serve them hot with skin. peeling them at the table is part of the fun. When you get them right, peeling chestnuts is very easy. Properly roasted chestnuts are soft inside and have a hull that cracks under finger pressure. Traditionally, you use your fingers to peel the roasted chestnuts.
Considerations on the Roasted Chestnuts Recipe
Traditionally we serve them with the skin and each guest peels them themselves, even kids learn how to remove the skin of a chestnut fast. However, if you are cooking a Mediterranean diet dish like rice with chestnuts, remove the skins as soon as they are ready and use them as soon as possible.
If you don’t eat them immediately, wrap them in a woolen cloth. In wool, chestnuts can keep warm for up to one hour. After this time, they begin to get cold, even in a woolen cloth, and lose most of their natural flavors. Remember that peeling cold roasted chestnuts is quite difficult or in some cases near impossible.
As it happens with food every so often, there is a passionate controversy about making the cuts on the rounded or the flattened side of the chestnut. We always make the cut on the rounded side with good results, but if you want to experiment and make it in the flattened side, go for it!
Around twenty-two to twenty-five minutes is the average time for medium-sized oven-roasted chestnuts, but feel free to increase the time if your chestnuts are very big. But as we pointed out above, we don’t recommend roasting chestnuts longer than thirty minutes though, because then the chestnuts become very hard.
If you are roasting chestnuts for a huge crowd, stir them after 10 minutes, and then two more times, every 5 minutes. Whatever the case, don’t put more than one single layer of chestnuts in the baking dish.