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While most bloggers are talking about pumpkins and cinnamon, I like to celebrate Autumn with a Roasted Chestnuts Recipe as they have been my Autumn delight since I was young.
Walking around Rome, and most European cities, you find on the street corners vendors roasting chestnuts in a kiln.
They offer their hot roasted chestnuts wrapped in a newspaper cone, and just by holding that cone your freezing hands find immediate comfort.
The scent of the roasted chestnuts immediately hit your nose and you can hardly wait to eat them. Hot, soft and with a nutty biscuit flavour they are delicious.
That is when you find a good one to eat, in fact, most have worms. Out of 10 chestnuts, you are lucky to eat 3 or 4. But what an experience, still worth every penny!
For many of us, chestnuts are part of our lives and we very well know how to roast them. As this blog is for an international audience, I appreciate that not everybody around the world is familiar with them.
Types of Chestnuts
When I was young, we used to pick up our chestnuts in a woodland near the Roman Castles.
They were the real Marroni chestnuts, which are bigger than regular ones.
They are more expensive but so much chunkier.
Be aware, do not confuse them with wild chestnuts also called Horse chestnuts. They do not have the heart shape and they are not edible.
However, if you feed a pig with those horse chestnuts, its meat will be delicious.
How to cook them at home
Chestnuts can be boiled or roasted.
I prefer them roasted over a barbecue, otherwise in a very hot oven.
If you are roasting the chestnuts you need to make a small indent in the shell and halfway to the pulp otherwise, they will explode when they cook.
- To boil the chestnuts you just put them in boiling water as they are, they don’t need to be cut.
- Boil them for 30 minutes, drain them and they are ready.
- You can peel them with a knife but it is a tedious job.
- If you want to eat them, just cut them in half and squeeze the pulp out.
- If you need to cook with them, you will be better off to buy them in a jar already boiled and peeled.
Cooking with Chestnuts
I love cooking with chestnuts, my favourite is Sausagemeat and Chestnut Stuffing Wrapped in Bacon.
I roll my stuffing into small bites so I can freeze them and use as many as I need during the holiday seasons.
I like to combine the chestnuts with pork and cranberries, I also make Stuffed Pork Tenderloin with Chestnuts and Cranberries.
If I have some leftover in the jar I use them in the Pork Stew with Pineapple or Whatever.
If you feel like taking on a weekend cooking project, I would suggest you try to make homemade gnocchi with chestnuts.
Serve it as a side dish with butter, sage and parmesan cheese. Such a delightful way to celebrate Autumn with a comfort meal.
Let’s go back to our roasted chestnuts.
- Make sure you have a nice hot barbecue going.
- If you don’t have a barbecue, you can cook them in the oven but make sure it is very hot. Around 220 C – 425 F
- For best results, the chestnuts should be cooked in a pan with large holes at the bottom. The heat should almost burn their wooden shell.
- Keep turning them until the cuts you made opens and you can see the chestnut changing color from white to a dark yellow.
You can find the pan on Amazon following my affiliate link.
I have a pan as well a barbecue tray.
How to eat roasted chestnuts
- The roasted chestnuts should be eaten as soon as they are ready.
- They will be very hot, so wait few minutes. If properly cooked, you should be able to peel them very easily.
Open them up before you eat them as you might find someone inside who was eating them already.
Roasted chestnuts for me are like cherries, once you eat one you cannot stop. I love to eat them in front of the television.
I find comfort even just by opening them, and I am often the official “chestnuts opener”. Eating roasted chestnuts is a comforting and reassuring routine.
You can rest assured, the last chestnuts is always a bad one.
Chestnuts jams and glace
If you cannot find fresh chestnuts, you might be able to find the chestnut spread in a jar or can.
In French is called Crème de marrons and you should be able to find it with the jams and marmalades.
Delicious are also Marron Glace which are chestnuts caramelized in sugar.
I wouldn’t recommend to make them at home as the recipe is very complicated. You will find them in artisanal bakeries or sold in boxes.
I like to buy the bags with the broken pieces and use them in my cakes or ice cream as fillings.
They are the broken pieces of the Marron Glace that cannot be sold in boxes. They are cheaper and taste exactly the same.
So I will end this article with my favourite chestnut dessert:
My revisited version of the more famouse Mont Blanc. The ingredients are the same, I just combined the chestnut mousse with the cream to create a semifreddo dessert with meringue.
Hope chestnuts will bring you joy as much as pumpkins and cinnamon.
Roasted Chestnuts Recipe
- 14 oz fresh chestnuts preferably Marron
- Make an intend in the chestnuts shell, the chestnuts will expand when roasted
- cook them on an open fire, barbecue or hot oven 200C
- When the chestnuts turn into a dark yellow colour they are ready
- Best to eat them warm, but let them rest for few minutes before trying to open them