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Chestnuts Roasting...

...on an open fire, Jack Frost nipping at your nose. I've sung that song for (many) years but grew up with little understanding of chestnuts. Living in Texas and California, I spent more time decorating cactus at Christmas time than ice skating, playing in the snow or eating roasted nuts.

For anyone who joins me in the unfamiliar terrain of chestnut roasting, here's how it's done at home:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. With a very sharp knife, cut an X in the rounded side of each chestnut, making sure to cut all the way through the shell. This is an important step, because it will prevent the chestnuts from exploding.
  3. Place the chestnuts on a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake for about 10 minutes. Sprinkle a few tablespoons of water over the chestnuts, shake the pan, and bake for another 10-15 minutes.
  4. Wrap them in a towel, and let them sit for about 10 minutes. Crush them gently with the bottom of a heavy pan. Unwrap the towel, and place the chestnuts in a big bowl.
  5. Take the bowl to a comfy spot (a roaring fire is good) with some friends and family (and maybe some glasses of port). Peel the skins off of the meat, while you have a pleasant chat.

You can also give them a try in this Brussels Sprouts with Roasted Chestnuts or pick up a jar of prepared chestnuts to use in this Madeira-Glazed Chestnuts.

How do you enjoy chestnuts?