More than just a holiday song: Chestnuts roasting on an open fire

by Giacomo Abrusci, special to Edible DCChesnuts

Chestnut season is here! These make a great and healthy addition to your dessert or snack menu around the holidays, and, of course, are perfect in stuffing for a Thanksgiving turkey.

Fresh chestnuts can be found this time of year in farmers markets and area grocery stores, and they are fairly easy to prepare. Once you roast and peel them, you can munch on them whole (I like to sprinkle a little sea salt on them), or chop or purée them for many different recipes.

First, on the rounder side of the chestnut, slice through that hard brown skin down one side; try not to cut too deeply into the meat of the nut. In my family we usually cut an “X”; I don’t know why we do it that way, that just what my grandparents did.

Once you have your chestnuts prepped you have two choices: Put them under the coals of your fireplace or fire pit for 10 minutes Roast them in the broiler, turning them occasionally for 15 minutes or until the shell starts to char and peel.

That’s it. Let them cool, peel back the skin and enjoy!

Pro tip 1: Try using a slightly dull paring knife or steak knife. Anything sharper can slice through the chestnut and cut yourself. Either way, be careful!

Pro tip 2: Placing a towel under the chestnuts as you cut through the skin can help keep them from slipping.

Pro tip 3: Putting the hot chestnuts in a paper bag or covering them with a towel so they steam as they cool will make them even easier to peel.