“Chestnuts roasting on an open fire….” If you listen to any Christmas carols, chances are you have heard about chestnuts and roasting them. Do you know how to roast them? Have you ever eaten a roasted chestnut? They are delicious and not too hard to make!
For anyone who has been fortunate enough to have spent any time in New York City during the holidays, you have lively seen chestnut vendors on the streets. You can walk up and buy a bag of warm, freshly roasted chestnuts to eat and enjoy while you take in the holiday sights the city has to offer.
You don’t have to take a trip to New York, though to enjoy this seasonal tasty treat. We have rounded up some recipes you can make and enjoy with your roasted chestnuts.
If you’re fortunate enough to live in proximity of a chestnut tree you can go and pick your own off the ground. You can also purchase chestnuts for roasting at your local supermarket. Specialty supermarkets sell fresh chestnuts and those that are already roasted that you can just cut up and use in any of these recipes. We think there is nothing better than roasting your own and here’s how.
Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire
Pick chestnuts fresh, if you have the opportunity. If not, pick some up at the grocery store.
You can tell if a chestnut is ready to eat if you find it on the ground. They will only fall off the tree when they’re ripe. The spiky outside husk will burst open to allow you to get to the nutty goodness inside. Grab a bag, find a tree and pick them off the ground. NOTE: Wear gloves because of the husks and sharp and prickly.
Look for chestnuts that are shiny, smooth and that the shells look glossy. Don’t take any that have small pinholes in them because that means there are worms inside.
Shake the chestnut. If it rattles, it has been on the ground too long and the nut inside has begun drying out.
Take your chestnuts home, put them in a netted bag and hang them in a cool, dry place for a couple of days. Letting them sit for a couple of days the starch inside the nut will turn to sugar and they will be even sweeter when you roast them.
Not everyone lives where they can forage for fresh chestnuts from the ground. If you’re buying them in a grocery store look for nuts that are glossy-skinned and firm. Don’t buy nuts that are wrinkled or have holes in them. You will also want to shake them to make sure the nut inside doesn’t rattle.
Now that you’ve got your chestnuts, you need to roast them
- With a sharp knife make two incisions on the side of the chestnut shell to form a cross-hatch
- The incision should be about 1/8 deep.
- After doing the incisions, place the chestnuts in a chestnut roaster if you have one. You can place them in the roaster over an open fire in your fireplace
- You can also cook the chestnuts on your gas grill. To do this, place the chestnuts in an open rimmed baking pan and roast over direct heat for thirty minutes
- You will know the chestnuts are done when you hear popping and hissing sounds (no matter which method you use)
- Shell the chestnuts while they are still warm. Let them cool enough to be easily handled without burning your fingers
Here are some ways to enjoy the fruits of your labor with your roasted chestnuts
Eat them by the handful. You can also drizzle them in olive oil, toss and sprinkle with salt and/or parmesan cheese
Add them to your menu in these delicious recipes
Roasted chestnut soup with thyme cream
A rich velvety soup that warms your heart and your insides.
3 cups whole freshly roasted chestnuts, peeled and chopped
2 cups chopped yellow onions
¾ cup carrot, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 cups chicken broth
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
1 ½ teaspoons fresh thyme, finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
How to make it:
- In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, combine the onions, carrots and olive oil over medium heat until they are tender.
- Add the roasted chestnuts and chicken broth. Let this come to a boil.
- Place half of the broth mixture in a blender. Blend until smooth and then set aside. Repeat the same process until all of the broth has been blended.
- Transfer back the soup into the saucepan or Dutch oven and place it back on the stove over medium heat.
- Season with salt and pepper and bring it up to a boil. Reduce the heat and allow the soup to simmer for 20 minutes.
- In a medium-sized bowl, place the whipped cream and whip until it forms soft peaks. Fold in half of the chopped thyme.
- Ladle the soup into individual bowls, each until it’s ¾ full. Add a dollop of the thyme cream. Garnish with the remaining thyme and serve.
Sourdough stuffing with roasted chestnuts
The roasted chestnuts in this healthy, yet delicious, stuffing make this a perfect accompaniment to turkey or a Christmas goose.
1 loaf stale sourdough bread, crusts removed and cut into ½ inch cubes
2 cups) freshly roasted chestnuts, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
2 large celery stalks, chopped
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and cubed
½ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, minced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon fresh sage leaves, minced
1 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
4 cups chicken broth
How to make it:
- Preheat your oven or outdoor grill to 400 degrees.
- Coat the bottom of a baking sheet with olive oil or cooking spray. Place the sourdough bread pieces on the baking sheet. Bake or grill them for 8 to 10 minutes, or until they are lightly brown. Set aside to cool.
- In a large saucepan, melt the butter and add the onions, carrots, and celery. Saute the vegetables until they are soft and tender.
- Add the apples and saute for about 2 minutes before adding the parsley, thyme, sage, salt, and pepper. Set aside.
- Add the roasted chestnuts, toasted sourdough bread, eggs, and chicken broth into the pan. Bake or grill this on indirect heat at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until the top is light brown and crusty.
Christmas yule log
The combination of the rich chocolate sponge and the nutty, creamy chestnut filling will make this a welcome alternative to the more traditional Christmas pudding. If you really want to get fancy, you can add chocolate frosting on top to give it the texture of a real log.
175 grams caster sugar
6 free-range eggs, separated
50 grams plain flour
175 grams dark chocolate, melted
3 cups roasted chestnuts, peeled and chopped
2 ¼ cups whole milk
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
150mL double cream or whipping cream
50 grams mascarpone cheese
3 tablespoons icing sugar
How to make it:
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius or 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Whisk the caster sugar and egg yolks until you get a pale and thick mixture. Stir in the flour until it’s well combined. Fold in the melted chocolate.
- In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until it forms stiff peaks. Fold into the chocolate egg mixture.
- Carefully pour the batter into a 9×13-inch Swiss roll tin lined with greaseproof paper lightly brushed with vegetable oil. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until the cake had risen and springs back when it touched in the center. Set aside to cool.
- In a saucepan, combine 2 cups of the chopped chestnuts, milk, salt and vanilla extract. Gently simmer for 20 minutes.
- Pour the mixture into a blender or food processor or blender, one-third at a time. Blend until it forms a thick paste. Transfer into a bowl and allow to cool.
- Whip the double cream or whipping cream until it forms soft peaks. Fold this into the cooled chestnut puree.
- Add the mascarpone and mix until well combined. Fold in the remaining cup of chopped chestnuts.
- Remove the cake from the Swiss roll tin. Spread the chestnut filling evenly on top of the cake, leaving about an inch border around the cake.
- Starting from the longest side of the cake, roll the cake. Make sure that you do this gently but firmly to prevent the cake from breaking.
- Transfer the cake to a serving dish and dust this with icing sugar.