As many of you know, I’m a big fan of simple cooking. Indeed, Calabrian cuisine is noted for its simplicity, using few ingredients but making sure they’re the best you can possibly find.
As winter approaches, there’s nothing more simple and delicious than what I’m offering you for this week’s What’s Cooking Wednesday.
Before P came along, I always roasted chestnuts in the oven, slitting the tops with Xs and then roasting them on a cookie sheet drizzled with a little olive oil. With this method, set the oven to 425°F (218°C) and let the chestnuts roast until the outside shell separates from the slits on top (about 15-20 minutes). The inside will be soft.
You can also do this without the oil, of course, but I like the extra kick of flavor.
Now, though, especially since we’ve been using the fireplace more, P just slices off the top and a bit off of each side, and puts them right in the smoldering ashes. Some minutes later and they’re done, if a bit dirty. Wipe them off, and look!
Chestnuts roasted in a smoldering fire:
I like to think of them as wearing little vests.
Of course you can also do this with a roasting pan over the fire, and you’ll get the kind that Nat King Cole used to sing about. Just always be sure to expose the nut in some way before you roast to avoid explosions. I hear that gets messy.
Whether the roasted chestnuts are from the oven or the fire, be extra careful removing them as they’re hot. You can either let them cool first and then squeeze them to get the nuts out of the shells or simply wrap them all in a hand towel while they’re still hot and press them till you hear lots of cracking sounds.
I, of course, am far too impatient, so I use my bare hands while the nuts are still quite hot. As my grandmother always said, I think I’m getting “asbestos fingers.”
Why chestnuts of course! We didn’t have them very often when I was growing up, but they’ve definitely become a winter favorite of mine since I’ve been here. I haven’t tried any recipes using them, mostly because I never seem to have any chestnuts around as we eat them too fast.
I welcome any of your favorite chestnut recipes, though!