Christmas Series | Roasted Chestnuts
December 16, 2020
Welcome to my 12 days of Christmas Foods! Each day I make a different Christmas recipe. I'll share which recipe I used, a little history about the recipe, the steps involved in making it, and, of course, delicious pictures. On day 1, I made gingerbread and on day 2, I made aged eggnog.
For the third day of Christmas I made Dan Roman's Roasted Chestnuts found on Bon Appetit. I had never made nor tried chestnuts before so this was a new experience for me. My only knowledge of chestnuts was that they can be roasted over an open fire thanks to Nat King Cole's The Christmas Song.
History Lesson: If you have been following along with my days of Christmas, you will not be shocked to know that the origin of chestnuts is unknown- similar to the past few recipes I’ve made. Before we get into this Christmas tradition of roasting chestnuts over an open fire, let’s talk about chestnuts.
I’ll admit- I had no idea what a chestnut looked like or what it tasted it. If it wasn’t for the huge sign that read “chestnuts” at Whole Foods, I would’ve walked right passed them. They are smooth with a dark brown shell. Oh- and little fuzzies underneath the shell too! They grow on deciduous trees that are native to Asia and the Americas. Chestnuts differ from other nuts because their calories are mostly from carbs instead of proteins and fats. They have two times the amount of starch as a potato! Chestnuts are also the only nut that has vitamin C.
Chestnut trees are extremely adaptable to the mountainous Mediterranean regions throughout Europe and still are really popular in Mediterranean countries. You see, chestnuts were a big deal in America at one point, but a plant disease overtook all of the chestnut trees in the early 1900s. Since the United States only produces 1% of the world’s chestnuts, we now rely mostly on Italy for our chestnuts (though China is the biggest producer of chestnuts).
Chestnuts are popular at Christmas time simply because that’s when fresh chestnuts are available (September – February). Since I didn’t have an open fire to roast the chestnuts, I used my oven. They turned out fantastic! They taste very similar to sweet potatoes- not much like a nut at all. I’m so glad I decided to add this to my Christmas cooking list! If you have never roasted chestnuts before why not make this the year that you go for it!
You can find my sources and read more about chestnuts here and here.
Let's talk about the recipe! This roasted chestnut recipe comes from Dan Roman. You can find the recipe on Bon Appetit here.
The first step in roasting chestnuts is to cut an "X" on the round part of the chestnut. This will prevent the chestnut from exploding in the oven (yikes!) and makes it easier to peel after roasting. This recipe has you cover the chestnuts in melted butter, rosemary, salt, freshly grated nutmeg, and pepper. I found that mine were done after 20 minutes in the oven. You'll know that they are done roasting when the shells begin to peel back and the chestnuts will be hot to the touch.
This will not be the last time I make chestnuts. One, they are delicious. Two, there are plenty of chestnut recipes in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking that I will get to soon!
See you all again tomorrow for day 4. Happy Roasting!
December 16, 2020 by Laura Bullock