"Chestnut Roasting – Tools & Techniques” The SpitJack Chestnut Roasting Primer
Fire-roasting fresh chestnuts is easier than you think. Fire roasted chestnuts require just three basic ingredients; a mature fire, a special chestnut roasting pan.
Easthampton, MA (PRUnderground) November 14th, 2017
“Chestnuts roasting on an open fire”, both the song and the image it conjures, is one of the most memorable and iconic elements of the winter holiday season. Chestnuts are a culinary delicacy and have only a short season (late fall through winter) that they can be prepared and enjoyed while fresh. You can cook chestnuts many ways but the most appealing, romantic, and certainly the best tasting, is roasting them over an open fire.
Recreating this iconic holiday experience and making properly roasted chestnuts at home may be easier than you think. So long as you have a good fire, it couldn’t be simpler or easier to do and the results are incomparable. Below is a guide to roasting chestnuts and how to use some of the tools we offer.
The SpitJack Chestnut Roasting Guide:
For successful fire roasted chestnuts you need three basic ingredients; a mature fire, a special chestnut roasting pan, and good fresh chestnuts. Optional is a sharp knife or specialty tool for scoring the nuts before roasting.
It is best to cook chestnuts over a “mature” fire that has burned through most of the flames and rendered the wood into hot embers. This way it is easier to control the cooking and the fire is not so hot as to scorch or cook the chestnuts too quickly. It is usually more comfortable too. In many cases the fire will be hot enough to require gloves to be worn.
The chestnut roasting pan is designed to create maximum flavor, cooking efficiency, comfort and safety. The holes in the bottom allow just the right amount of flames through, the sloped sides help the nuts to move around properly, and the long handle (if you have that model) allows you to keep a safe and comfortable distance from the fire. We recommend this pan in particular. This long handle chestnut roasting pan is perhaps the most authentic and surely the simplest roaster.
Check your chestnuts for freshness by looking at the shell. It should be slightly shiny (no discoloration or mold) and still firm when you press into it. Keep chestnuts fresh by refrigerating them until thoroughly chilled and then transferring them to a plastic bag with holes punched into it. Keep refrigerated for up to 3 weeks until ready to use.
Prepare the fire as described above. It will take about 45 minutes to reach the mature state.
Prepare the chestnuts for roasting using a chestnut knife, or other sharp knife. Place the chestnut on a cutting surface with the rounded side up. Carefully score the top with two cuts, making a small (1/2”) “X” on the top. Be careful while doing this as the chestnut surface is rounded and very smooth and the knife can easily slip. Scoring the nuts allows them to escape while roasting and prevents little “explosions” which can be dangerous around an open fire.
Place the prepared chestnuts into the pan (about 20-25 at a time). Do not overcrowd the pan. Place the pan about 3-4 inches over the embers and shake gently to both turn and move the chestnuts around in the pan. Continue to cook the chestnuts for 7-10 minutes and check for doneness. Don’t worry if the nuts get a little burnt. That is actually part of the cooking process.
To check for doneness, remove the pan from the fire (rest it on the hearth or close to the fire), remove one of the chestnuts (carefully, they are very hot), let cool slightly, and peel off the shell and the paper-like skin underneath. The nut should be pale yellow, soft and have the consistency of a firmly cooked potato. If it still has a crunch to it, return to the fire for 3-5 more minutes. Check again for doneness.
When done, remove the chestnuts to a plate and follow the above procedure for peeling. If you are not going to eat them all at once, keep them by the fire to stay hot. Repeat steps 1-5 until all are eaten.
SpitJack (the company) was founded in 2004 by Bruce Frankel, a former chef and restaurateur, from a passion for food and cooking with fire. After much research and discovery, SpitJack selected some very practical, safe, and affordable tools to use for indoor and outdoor fireplace cooking. In response to customer feedback, SpitJack has expanded its catalog and is now a leading manufacturer and direct retailer of whole animal rotisseries and accessories.