November is soon to end and December will be upon us. How time flies. It seems like only yesterday we were talking about planting daffodils and carving Jack-o-Lanterns and already Santa is peeking his bushy beard around the corner and sniffing the air for the scent that always signals the holidays are on their way. Roasted chestnuts may always be associated with Christmas, we have Mel Torme and Nat King Cole to thank for that, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be enjoyed all winter.Chestnuts are surprisingly versatile. When dried, they can be milled into gluten-free flour suitable for cakes or doughnuts known as fritelli, made into pasta, used as a thickener for sauces and stews.
Chestnut flour is the traditional ingredient for Corsican polenta known as pulenda. Candied chestnuts called marrons glaces also make an appearance in the holiday culinary repertoire of France, and in Italy; steeped in brandy and covered with marzipan, appearing as the titillatingly named Nipples of Venus.
But it is the humble and rustic bag of roasted chestnuts that captures our collective imagination each winter. Certainly any excuse to crank up the oven to 400 for a half hour or so while the winter winds blow outside is fine by me, but regardless, snacking on a bag of these hot, fresh roasted gems is habit forming, no matter what the season.
This Saturday Scarpetta Restaurant will be soliciting donations for Movember and offering complimentary bags of roasted chestnuts from 11-3pm.
If you can’t make it to Scarpetta, then preparing them at home couldn’t be any easier, the important thing to remember is to score each chestnut with an X before roasting, thus allowing the steam to escape and preventing the nut from exploding. Best enjoyed while still warm, you can also save them in a jar for snacking later, but peel them while they are warm as this is difficult to do when the nuts are cold.
-preheat oven to 400 F
-score each nut with an X
-place nuts on shallow pan
-roast in oven for 20 minutes
-peel while still warm