Alas, we have no open fireplace in which to roast chestnuts. But that doesn’t stop me. I LOVE chestnuts. Always have. They were always a treat, perhaps because of their short life span. They appear in November and are usually gone by January. Growing up, chestnuts were de rigueur in our Italian household. Roasting chestnuts in the oven and enjoying them with my dad’s homemade wine. And because this starchy nut was so short-lived, we would gather around the kitchen table like thieves, snapping up as many of those piping-hot tender nuts as we could muster. They were so hot and we really should have waited at least 5 minutes before digging in. We just couldn’t wait. Eventually, an argument would ensue over who had eaten the most chestnuts. To ensure that I got my fair share, or perhaps a little more than my fair share, I would discreetly stash 2 or 3 chestnuts underneath the tablecloth in front of me, assuming no one would notice. And that’s when my dad decided to roast a specific amount of chestnuts per person. To be fair. As he put the roasted chestnuts onto the table, he would say to us that he had allocated 8 or 10 chestnuts per person.
Christmas time always brought an abundance of chestnuts in our home. Although my dad is no longer with us, I keep on with the tradition of roasting chestnuts for my girls. Emma is o.k. with them. But Charlotte is so much like me when I was growing up. She LOVES them! And when comes the time to decorate our Christmas tree every year, we roast some chestnuts and eat them as we go along.
You need to cut into the chestnut with a sharp knife before roasting, otherwise they will explode and make quite the mess in your oven. Roast at 400 degrees for about 30 to 35 minutes. You could check for readiness after 30 minutes. Just crack one open and bite into it. It should be tender soft.
This year, as we were eating our chestnuts and decorating the tree, we found a surprise in our tree. A nest, left behind from last Spring. We were very excited about this small gift left to us. We left it there. When the time comes to take down our Christmas tree, we will transfer the nest into one of our trees outdoors. Our way of passing the gift forward.
Hope you all had a very merry holiday, filled with your own little surprises!