Although we did not grow up eating chestnuts this time of year, there is something about their warm, woodsy smell when roasting that makes me incredibly nostalgic. Perhaps it is a very specific case of synesthesia, that phenomenon in which you confuse one sense for another, only I have confused those lyrics (chestnuts roasting on an open fire, of course) for an actual ritual from my childhood.
Regardless of my mysterious attachment to them, they’re a lovely treat. Decidedly un-nutty for something being called so, they are sweet and soft and delicate, dense in texture but yielding to the tooth.
Chestnuts are tasty eaten plain and hot from an oven or folded into an appetizer, pilaf or dessert.
CLASSIC ROAST CHESTNUTS
1 or 2 lbs chestnuts
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Using a sharp paring knife, score an X into the skin of each chestnut – this allows steam to release while they are roasting, and prevents them from exploding in the oven!
Roast the chestnuts for about 25-30 minutes, until the skin has peeled outward and their shells have darkened.
Let them rest, covered under a dishcloth, for about 5 minutes. While they are still warm, peel both the outer shell and the inner brown skin from the nut.