Hello, Autumn! It’s nice to see you! Let’s make some roasted Chestnuts. 

I wait all year for the change of seasons for Autumn. In California, we don’t really have the dynamic fall foliage like back in Boston. There is a moment when you can feel Autumn in the air, though. As I’ve mentioned what feels like a million times, it is still blazing hot in southern California.  The last few days it has cooled off and let me tell you, I’m taking bloody advantage of it! Around this time of year chestnuts pop up in the grocery stores.  I can’t tell you how many times I walked by these darling, deep brown beauties without giving them a second thought. I have made a vow to myself to try different things or experiment when I see things I haven’t had.

In 2012, Bon Appetit had a family traditions issue where the employees pulled their time tested family recipes to share with the readers. This issue is one of my favorite issues of any published cooking magazine, ever. It’s the one I’ve used time and time again to make Dan Roman’s Buttery Roasted Chestnuts in Foil. I will never nonchalantly walk by chestnuts again. EVER!

Let’s talk about these little autumn darlings in some detail. First, when they fall off the tree they are in these spiky shells. Scary right, then they fall to the ground when they are ripe in their sheen packed deep brown shells. The thick papery skin contains a creamy, rich, and low cholesterol treat. When you go to the grocery store it’s important to pick chestnuts one by one – first making sure there’s no mold on the bottom where the shell is a lighter color. Next the shell should be full – no rattling going on in there! Rattle or crinkled shells mean old chestnuts! No one has time for that nonsense! Don’t be afraid to shake or press down on the shells. Chestnuts should be refrigerated as soon as they arrive home. Make sure they are in a low moisture place in your fridge. Moisture breeds mold. Also, ask your produce person to bring out the chestnuts they have in the back. They are kept refrigerated and thus are the best selection in the store. #protips

I’m obsessed with all things Chestnut – Bonne Maman Châtaigne spread, Fauchon Chestnut Honey Châtaigne Miel (thanks, Erica for convincing the TSA agent to let you through with this duty free purchase while you were at Charles de Gaulle), and roasted chestnuts. The Bonne Maman chestnut spread is sweetened with vanilla bean and it is spreadable on toast and other types of pastries, and pancakes. Chestnut honey is a little bittersweet and is used to pair with fromage and fruit. And those jarred roasted chestnuts which I haven’t used yet, are meant for this: Chestnut and Mushroom Gravy with Roasted Onions.

Let’s get to my favorite part, the preparation. Take the chestnuts out of the refrigerator, place the chestnut flat side down on a cutting board, and carefully using a sharp paring knife, slice one diagonal mark across the round top of the chestnut, and then a cross diagonal one making an X. See the image below for an example. It is important you use caution during this step. Let’s keep all of our fingers now, shall we? Make that X from corner to corner. The larger the better. This will make for ease of roasting and peeling after they’ve roasted.

X marks the spot
X marks the spot

See the buttery yellow chestnut exposed?
See the buttery, yellow chestnut exposed?
Now we are going to put all the cut chestnuts into a bowl. Next, pour boiling water over them and let them sit for about 5-10 minutes. This is adding moisture to help them steam and roast while in the oven. While they are in the boiling water, put your butter on the stove to melt slowly (I added a dash of olive oil here), and chop your fresh rosemary into one inch pieces. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

Chestnuts submerged in boiling water
Chestnuts submerged in boiling water

Chop Rosemary into about 1 inch pieces
Chop Rosemary into about 1 inch pieces. This is two 3 inch sprigs.
Dry the chestnuts, and return them to the rinsed and dried bowl, then add the rosemary, melted butter with the dash of olive oil, salt, pepper, and freshly grated nutmeg and stir to coat all of the chestnuts.

Butter, rosemary, nutmeg, salt, and pepper
Butter with olive oil, rosemary, nutmeg, salt, and pepper
Now get a baking dish, a quarter baking sheet will work as well. I used my 1 quart oval small Le Creuset for this as I was only cooking 11 chestnuts. Take a sheet of aluminum foil and measure it with enough excess on all sides to be gathered up into a boat leaving the top open. Place the chestnuts X side up, pour over butter, and place the rosemary around the chestnuts.

Arrange Chestnuts in foil
Arrange Chestnuts in foil X side up
Gather up the sides like this:

Gather Foil leaving an opening at the top for the steam and air to just escape.
Gather Foil leaving an opening at the top for the steam and air to just escape.
Just about 20 minutes for a half batch of chestnuts. Keep an eye on them. I normally check on them about half way through to make sure they aren’t dried out. Keep in mind not every single chestnut will be exceptional in flavor. I had one that was not that tasty but all the rest were buttery, rich with woodsy rosemary and then the hint of nutmeg. These are absolute heaven, I tell you.

See how the peels curl away from the center.
See how the peels curl away from the center. Exposing their golden buttery interior

Time to enjoy these buttery treats
Time to enjoy these buttery treats. I have a tidbit bowl for the shell and a nutcracker just in case.
Remove the chestnuts from the oven and spoon onto a serving dish, pour butter over the chestnuts and serve while warm. Use caution while eating, as they are exceptionally hot right out of the oven.

I hope I’ve inspired you to try something new. I love this recipe and I’ve used it more than 10 times since the Bon Appetit December 2012 issue was released. Chestnuts are normally out now in grocery stores. It fills me with utter bliss when I see them in a basket in the store because I know I get to make this buttery roasted chestnut recipe. Bon appétit!

2 thoughts on “Hello, Autumn! It’s nice to see you! Let’s make some roasted Chestnuts. 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s