Roasting chestnuts is easy, but the preparation can seem laborious if you aren’t in love with chestnuts like I am, or if you don’t use the right tool, or if you haven’t done it numerous times. It’s worth it, I assure you.
Here’s what to do:
Carefully score an “x” in the flat side of each chestnut with a paring knife or good kitchen shears (did we mention “carefully”). As a safety precaution, rest your hand with the kitchen shears on the cutting board for stability–it goes much faster like this.
Short-bladed knives and shears give more control–those chestnuts can be pretty slippery to hold onto.
Spread out in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast in the toaster oven at about 400F for about 20 minutes. The cut skin will curl back a little, and the white flesh will turn yellow.
Pluck one out, toss it from hand to hand until you can give it a squeeze to crack the peel in both directions of the “x” you cut into it.
Slip the nut out of the shell and take a bite to check for doneness. It should be soft-firm, but not crunchy. Remove from the oven when done and wait just until cool enough to handle before peeling.
When they are still pretty warm, they peel beautifully and easily. If they cool too long, the skin inside the peel will re-adhere to the flesh making it difficult to remove.
If you get any that are discolored or with a black spot, cut that part off. It will taste really bitter and unpleasant, but the rest of the chestnut will taste fine if you cut that part off.
Eat them up or add to a recipe. They are so good in pasta with greens and mushrooms and maybe sausage all sauteed together. Yay!