Simple to prepare, a tray of freshly roasted chestnuts is sure to put anyone in the seasonal spirit. Prepare a batch to use for all your festive favourites, including stuffing, cakes and crumbles, or tuck in while they're fresh from the oven.
A tray of freshly roasted chestnuts is a wonderful festive snack, but you can also serve them with roasted meats, fold them into your stuffing mixture, or chop them up to add to crumble toppings. They add depth to both sweet and savoury dishes.
Available from late September until January, chestnuts are at their peak over the festive season. For maximum flavour, look for the largest chestnuts you can find and choose those that are shiny and feel heavy for their size.
Cut the shell
Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Lay the chestnuts on their flat sides and, with a sharp knife, make a long slit crosswise over the top. Make sure you cut carefully through the outer shell but not the nut inside.
Roast until split
Place in a roasting dish large enough to have one layer of chestnuts, without overcrowding them. Roast in the oven for around 30 minutes or until the skins split open. They will be very hot, so leave in the tin for now.
Cool and peel
Once cool enough to handle, but still warm enough to work with, peel the outer shell, then remove the inner brown membrane. Serve immediately, or chop, ready to be added to your recipe.
For a smoother cooked chestnut
Oven-roasting chestnuts is the best way to bring out the fullest flavour (if you want to eat them straight away or chop them into your stuffing mix). Boiling them will give a smooth texture for cooking in soups or purées. To do this, prepare them in the same way as step 1, then boil for 30 minutes instead of roasting. Peel, then chop or purée as required.
Need inspiration? Try our favourite chestnut recipes...