One of the first signs of winter, aside from holiday lights, is roasted chestnuts sold on city streets. Slowly roasted, the chestnut, which is more like a starch than a nut, makes the perfect sweet and savory snack. Plus it’s healthy: low in fat and calories; full of fiber, calcium, and vitamin C.
Since chestnuts are highly perishable, they need to be eaten soon after purchasing them, and they should be stored in a breathable bag in the refrigerator.
Chestnuts can be tough to peel, and while freshness plays a part in this, so does the cooking method. This pan-roasted technique steams the chestnuts first to open the shells and separate the skin from the flesh. Then the steamed chestnuts are slowly roasted in the same pan. The process is easy, and the results delicious. For an alternative chestnut roasting method, check out our oven-roasted chestnut recipe.
1Using a sharp knife, cut an “X” about 1 inch long in the shell of each chestnut (the flat side is easiest). Place the chestnuts in a large straight-sided skillet with a tightfitting lid so that they sit in an even layer with wiggle room. Add the water, place the pan over high heat, and bring to a boil. Boil, shaking the pan often, until the water has evaporated, about 5 minutes. (If the shells do not open, add a little more water and continue to steam until they do.)
2Once the shells open, reduce the heat to low and cook the chestnuts, covered, in the dry pan, shaking the pan occasionally so they don’t burn, until the shells are toasted and the meat is tender, about 20 minutes more. Peel when cool enough to handle.