Farmhouse Roasted Chestnuts
Autumn is the time of year when the American Chestnut Trees in the northeast drop the nuts from their prickly burrs. As an interesting bit of trivia, there are typically three chestnuts per burr. Gathering them is a fun activity. My kids love to do it at their grandparents’ farm every fall. One just needs to be careful not to prick his hands on the burrs. There is also the slight chance of being rained on by an occasional falling nut, bringing back thoughts of Chicken Little!
Growing up, my grandmother occasionally added chestnuts to her Thanksgiving Day stuffing. That was the extent of my chestnut consumption. Because we live near my husband’s parents, we are lucky enough to get our fill each fall. I like to serve them roasted as a simple side dish. They make a delicious and satisfying snack, too!
- Kosher or sea salt
- Olive oil for brushing
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Score each chestnut with an “X” on one side. Cut deep enough to penetrate the hard shell but not too deep as to cut them in half. Place the scored chestnuts in a pot filled halfway with water. Bring the pot to a boil and allow to boil for 3 minutes. You will be able to tell that the chestnuts are ready to be shelled if the outer shell starts to peel back from the score mark and you can see the golden chestnut within.
- Take half of the chestnuts out of the pot and begin to peel off the hard outer shell and the soft inner shell. They may be hot, but it is much easier to remove the shells when they are hot and the shells are supple from the water. Repeat with the second half.
- Spread the shelled chestnuts on a baking sheet, lightly brush with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt. Bake for 10 minutes. The edges of the chestnuts should brown slightly while maintaining their golden color.
If you’d like to save the chestnuts for a later date, they may be frozen once shelled and roasted at a later date. Perfect for stuffing or soup!