Roasted chestnuts are a staple during the holiday season. Nutty and slightly sweet, roasted chestnuts are low in fat and high in protein, making it a delicious and healthy addition to your Christmas dinner menu.
While it’s easy to buy roasted chestnuts in your local supermarket to add them to your Christmas dinner menu, nothing beats the sight and smell of chestnuts roasting over an open fire. But roasting chestnuts can be a tricky business. That’s why we’ve come up with this quick and stress-free guide to help you indulge in this all-time favorite Christmas treat.
Fresh chestnuts are the best ones to use for roasting, and it doesn’t come any fresher than going out and picking them yourself.
Unlike other types of fruits or nuts, harvesting chestnuts are very easy. Chestnuts fall to the ground only when they are ripe, and the spiky outside husk called burrs burst open. So pretty much all you need to do is to pick them up. Just make sure that you’re wearing gloves since the burrs can be very prickly.
When harvesting for chestnuts, choose those that have smooth, glossy shells that are firm to the touch. If you find any, that’s got small pinholes on the shell, throw them aside because these have already got worms in them.
Gently shake the chestnuts. If you hear a rattling sound, throw them out. That means that they have been on the ground long and the meat inside the nut have already begun to dry out.
Once you gathered all the chestnuts you need, hang these in a cool, dry place using a netted bag for a few days. This will give time for the starch inside the chestnuts to turn into sugar, making them even sweeter by the time you roast them.
If there are no areas near you where you can forage for fresh chestnuts, you can always find them in your local supermarket.
Again, make sure that you inspect the chestnuts’ shells that they are not wrinkled or have any holes in them. Gently shake the chestnuts as well. Fresh chestnuts won’t make a sound when you do that.
How to Roast Chestnuts
With a very sharp knife, make two incisions on the plump side of the chestnut shell, forming the shape of a cross.
Each incision should be about 1/8 inch deep. A safe and fool-proof way to do this is by inserting the tip of the knife into the shell to poke through the shell and then press it down.
After slitting through the shells, place the chestnuts in a chestnut roaster and place this over the open fire in your fireplace. The roasted chestnuts would be done once you start hearing a hissing and popping sound, which is about 30 minutes.
If you don’t have a fireplace, you can always use your outdoor grill for roasting chestnuts. Place the chestnuts in a rimmed baking pan, shallow dish or an aluminum foil and roast them over direct heat for about 30-35 minutes.
Chestnuts are much easier to peel while they are still warm. Once they are done, simply take them out from the pan or aluminum foil wrapping and allow them to cool just enough for you to handle them without burning your hands.
Other Ways to Enjoy Roasted Chestnuts
Munching on roasted chestnuts is a delicious past time. But there are other ways on how you can enjoy them. Here are some tasty roasted chestnut recipes that you can try out and add to your upcoming sumptuous Christmas dinner menu.
Roasted chestnut soup with thyme cream
This rich and velvety soup will warm your heart and your insides during the long, cold winter nights.
3 cups whole freshly roasted chestnuts, peeled and roughly 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 makes this a perfect accompaniment to the popular Christmas turkey or the more traditional Christmas goose. You can choose to make this in your indoor oven or with your outdoor grill if it’s not too cold outside.
1 loaf sourdough bread, crusts removed and cut into ½ inch cubes
14 ounces (2 cups) freshly roasted chestnuts, peeled and roughly 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 cut into ½ inch cubes
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 roughly 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.