Almost sweet with a pleasantly tender, dry texture, chestnuts are a traditional snack around the holidays. They go great with cocktails or while watching football or a movie at home. They’re also a popular addition to poultry stuffing recipes, cookies and cakes. They are luxurious when pureed and turned into a classic, silky, chestnut soup and make a great side dish when roasted, peeled and sautéed in brown butter.
During the holidays they can be found in the produce department of most supermarkets or by mail order. When choosing chestnuts pick the largest ones available. They should be firm, shiny and have no small holes in them. Larger varieties tend to be meatier, sweeter and easier to peel.
You can roast them over an open fire in baskets specially made for the task or you can easily roast them in the oven which also produces excellent results.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Using the tip of a sharp paring knife make little cut on one side of each chestnut. This prevents them from bursting as they roast. Place on a baking sheet in a single layer and roast for about 20-25 minutes or until the peels start to split where they have been cut and one peels easily.
Best eaten right away while still hot but any extras can be peeled, cooled all the way and placed in a zip lock bag and stored in the refrigerator for snacking, baking or cooking.