With their sweet, nutty flavor and soft texture, oven-roasted chestnuts are a perfect snack to enjoy over the Christmas holidays – no open fire needed! Roasted chestnuts are incredibly popular in Italy from the start of fall all the way through the Christmas season.
There are two main types of chestnuts used for roasting, castagne, which are smaller, and marroni, which are larger and tend to be a little more expensive. In Italy, chestnuts are typically prepared in a special chestnut roasting pan or over a gas burner, but for this version, we'll prepare these tasty nuts in the oven.
Chestnuts are more common in Europe, but you can find them in the US at certain supermarkets, online shops, or you can purchase them directly from farmers. In Europe during the autumn, they're common at many grocery stores and supermarkets.
Some people prefer to soak the chestnuts before roasting them because it steams the nutmeat. It's up to you whether or not you want to do this. Take your clean, dry chestnuts and make makes an X-shaped cut in the round end of the nut. This is an absolutely essential step you cannot skip. Making this cut will prevent the chestnuts from exploding when they're in the oven.
After cutting the chestnuts, place them on a baking tray and bake them for 15 to 20 minutes at 425F. Take them out of the oven, and put them in a towel, then squeeze them – you should hear the shells cracking. Let the chestnuts sit for a few minutes, then peel off the shells and skins, and enjoy!
Make sure to slice the shells – this will prevent the chestnuts from exploding while they're roasting. Don't skip this step!
Oven-roasted chestnuts can be enjoyed on their own, but you can drizzle some melted butter or salt over them.
In Europe, no country produces more chestnuts than Italy. Chestnuts are incredibly popular in Italy and are enjoyed as a snack and used in a wide variety of recipes. In Tuscany, the Mugello region is particularly famed for the quality of its chestnuts.
During October, you'll find many food festivals celebrating the chestnut. There are two main types of chestnut in Italy, the smaller castagne, and the larger marroni, which are larger, more prized, and more expensive.
Place cooled chestnuts into an airtight container and keep them in the fridge for up to 4 days.
Preheat your oven to 425F.
Make an X-shaped cut on the round end of the chestnut using a sharp knife.
Place the chestnuts on a baking tray. Cook them for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the skins of the chestnuts pull back and the insides have softened.
Transfer the chestnuts to a towel. Wrap, then squeeze them, then let them sit for several minutes. Peel off the shells, and serve.
Make sure to remove the thin skin between the shell and the nutmeat.