What better to devour on a crisp Autumn day than a fresh batch of roasted chestnuts drizzled with a sweet rosemary butter?
As a kid going to school, this time of the year was the most hard to get through. The growing darkness drains the energy from my body and mind. For me, this is the hardest part of the year. It’s dark. Dark as ash. We used to walk from our school to the bus stoop, which was a brief 10 minute walk, with the sun already long gone, and nothing but the skin pinching winter wind on our cheeks.
Right next to the bus stop, there was always this old man who only emerged onto that corner during this time of the year. On his carriage, he would be roasting chestnuts. And the wonderful aroma of roasted chestnuts was the only thing that would comfort me on those cold fall/winter days. My sisters and I would get a big, newspaper-wrapped bundle of roasted chestnuts. Not only did they smell amazing, but their heat would penetrate through the newspaper and warm our hands.
Till now, I have an unexplained obsession with chestnuts. No matter where I am, I always start looking for them during this time, considering how they’re only in season for a brief while. And living somewhere where they are only available as imported, it’s not always guaranteed that I can get my hands on good quality ones.
This is when I break out the holiday music playlists. Reminded of those chestnuts roasting on an open fire (sadly Jack Frost will not be nipping on anyone’s nose). The sweet smell of chestnuts roasting in the air is one of those scents of the season that truly embodies the spirit of the holidays.
A special treat enjoyed only around this time of year, the warm cozy aroma leaves the house feeling so wonderfully inviting as they crackle and pop in the heat. It never feels quite like the holidays without digging into a pile of roasted chestnuts at least once or twice.
As romantic as open fires are, they’re not terribly practical when you live in the city or the suburbs. Roasting them at home in an oven is not at all hard to do. First of all, you should wash your chestnuts. It doesn’t matter that you’re not eating the shell. You’re going to touch the shell to peel them when you eat them, so be sure to wash them properly before cooking.
Once your chestnuts are clean, you’re going to cut slits into them. Even though most people prefer cutting an “X” into the flat side of the chestnut, I find it better to make one slit across the curved side of the chestnut. This allows steam to escape during the cooking process so that the chestnuts don’t explode, and makes it easier to peel them while they’re still warm. Just be careful not to cut yourself!
“12 Days of Baking”
Day 1: Apple Frangipane Tart
Day 2: Rugelach
Day 3: Almond Linzer Cookies
Day 4: Chocolate Salami
Day 5: Almond ginger Biscotti
Day 6: Coffee Sablé
Day 7: Florentines
Day 8: Foolproof Holiday Fudge
Day 9: Pomegranate Rosemary Punch
Day 10: Christmas Classic Mincemeat Wreath
Day 11: Gingerbread Hot Chocolate
Honey Rosemary Roasted Chestnuts
Makes 1 kg of Chestnuts
- 1kg fresh chestnuts
- 40 grams unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
- 2 sprigs rosemary
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 230°C.
- Using a sharp knife, make a slit through the flat side of chestnut shell, just into the flesh of the nut. Be sure to go pretty wide so the shells open up easily and helps the steam escape and prevents them exploding.
- Melt the butter and mix in the honey.
- Place a large sheet of tin foil on a rimmed baking sheet. Empty the chestnuts onto the tin foil, keeping them in one flat layer towards the center of the tin foil sheet so you have several inches of space around them. Coat the prepared chestnuts with the butter and honey mixture, and sprinkle them with the sea salt. Add in the sprigs of rosemary.
- then fold the extra foil edges over the chestnuts and herbs, touching the edges of the foil together but leaving a little opening for steam to escape.
- Place the pan in the oven and roast until the edges of the scored x mark start to curl up and the chestnuts are cooked through, about 30 to 45 minutes depending on the size of the chestnuts. Remove and allow to cool for 5 minutes before handling.
- The nuts will still be very hot, but the skin and shell will come off easier while the nuts are still warm so you need to work quickly. Place the aluminum foil onto a kitchen towel, and rub the chestnuts gently but fast. That will help loosen the shells up a bit, and easier to peel. Serve immediately.
Bon Appetit 🙂