Although I was familiar with the verse, for most of my life, I’d never actually seen anyone roast a chestnut. Much like caroling and riding in horse drawn sleighs, it just sounded like one of those Christmas activities of yesteryear, that now really only live on in song. It wasn’t until four years ago, on the last night of our honeymoon, that I experienced the awesomeness that are roasted chestnuts.
After an afternoon of window shopping in Milan, we found ourselves starving. It was around six o’clock, so we thought we’d have an early dinner before heading back to our hotel. It turns out, there’s no such thing as an early dinner in Italy. Most restaurants didn’t even open until eight. Still we were famished, so we bought a bag of roasted chestnuts from a street vendor to fill the void.
We ate them leaning on a storefront window ledge, while we watched some guys selling knock-off Prada bags fleeing from the police. This was surprisingly entertaining, as the sellers kept coming back, setting up their displays in the same places, only to find themselves packing up and running again, a few minutes later. It was people watching at its best, and the accompanying snack was delightful.
Since then, we’ve talked about oven roasting our own chestnuts, but never got around to it until this year. It took us (and by us, I actually mean Jeremy) a few tries to get it right, but now we’ve got it figured out.
The nuts are scored, sprinkled with water and roasted in the oven for 25 minutes. When the nuts have cooled enough to touch, the shells can be easily removed.
I love the simplicity of roasted chestnuts. They don’t require any additional seasoning. They just have a hint of natural sweetness, which is refreshing this time of year when we’re otherwise bombarded with candy and chocolates.