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Nov 19, 2008 01:22 PM

Roasting Chestnuts

Anyone have much experiencing roasting fresh chestnuts? I bought a bag from the farmers' market on Sunday and asked the guy for some tips. So he told me to boiled them, but I didn't like that idea. So he tells me I could bake in the oven for about 20 minutes on a tray with some water on the bottom so the chestnuts don't dry out. (Oh, yeah, he told me about putting the X on the nut so they don't explode!)

So that's what I did and what I find is that it's really hard to peel off the inner skin to get to the meat. So I don't know if I'm undercooking or overcooking the chestnuts. The ones I did try were great and really sweet.

Anyone have much experiencing roasting fresh chestnuts? What's the best way to deal with that annoying furry inner skin?

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  1. Make the X fairly deep. You don't want to risk an exploding chestnut.

    I don't think soaking or any water is necessary if you have good-quality chestnuts.

    I would roast them at 400 degrees for about a half hour, or until the X opens up and you've got good color on the nut. Test one for doneness.

    As for the sticky inner peel, I find it's a crapshoot. Some stick; some come away easily. At our house, the chestnuts are eaten in order of peelability. The ones that come free get eaten right away. Sometimes you're left with quite a few nuts with stubborn inner peels.

    3 Replies
      1. re: itryalot

        That About Italian Food writer is weird. Why would he think people would have a skillet with holes in it to let the flames through? So weird.

        Thanks Angela about the skins. Sounds like it's hit or miss. A shame, because once I get a whole chestnut naked and cooked, it's sooo good fresh. I guess it the price of eating them.

      2. re: Angela Roberta

        I've followed different directions for removing the inner peel (wrap the towel while hot, etc.) and stll find that it's a crapshoot. But, nothing beats the excitement when the peel comes off easily.

      3. I find that the skin comes off more easily if they're cooked more thoroughly. wish I had a more scientific method to share with you, but I usually have them in a pan on embers in the fireplace...ah, life is just like the movies! except when my fingers get burned and all chewed up from peeling the chestnuts.

        1. I find that if the X is deep enough and pierces the inner skin, it usually comes off much easier. I don't know why, I don't know if it's even true or if it's just a big coincidence, but that's how it's worked lately. I was also sent a Chestnutter, which makes cutting the X's much easier.

          2 Replies
          1. re: leanneabe

            oooh, that Chestnutter sounds interesting. Cutting the X on each individual chestnut is a chore, and I keep worrying I'll cut off a finger because you have to press so hard.

            1. re: singleguychef

              I actually have sliced my finger once while cutting chestnuts, so it's certainly a possibility. the Chestnutter works best on the plump (rather than flatter) chestnuts, but it's made the process so much faster. And my fingers are safe.

          2. For a discussion of peeling plus a delicious boiled chestnut recipe, see here: