I had never roasted chestnuts before, even though I enjoyed them very much. When I was little (back in Taiwan) my dad would buy me a bag of "wok-roasted" chestnuts (糖炒栗子）from street chestnut vendors when we were out about.
I loved holding a hot paper bag full of chestnuts and enjoying the aromas in a cold winter day. Ahh.
Anyhow I checked out a few chestnut roasting techniques and decided to roast them in the convection oven at the caffe.
The chestnuts Andrew gave me were HUGE.
Here's what I did:
1. Preheat the oven to 425. Wipe clean the shells of the chestnuts.
2. Cut a little X on the more rounded side of the chestnuts. I used a knife with "teeth" and "sawed" the X.
3. Place the chestnuts (flat side down) on a baking pan. Sprinkle some water on the chestnuts.
4. Bake the chestnuts on convection for 7 minutes (conventional oven 10 minutes), carefully take the pan out and turn the chestnuts (rounded side down) and bake anothet 7-8 minutes (conventional oven 10 minutes).
The outer shells would "bloom" so they are not too hard to remove. The inner shell did require a lot more work for me to peel.
The first chestnuts were all broken because I didn't know how to properly remove the shells. BUT they were really tasty!
And then Andrew brought me more chestnuts!
We roasted some more at the caffe, and they turned out very well. I even successfully removed the shells on one of them without breaking it!
Here are a few tricks I learned during these couple times of chestnut-roasting:
a. Cutting the X on the chestnuts while they are around room temperature makes it easier to insert the knife into the shells. 1/4 inch cut is what I'd do.
b. John suggested that dipping the chestnuts in water before baking may be better than sprinkling the chestnuts with some water. I did also read from an Asian lady where she soaked her chestnuts before she stir-fry them in the wok. I have yet to test this theory, though.
c. It is a good idea to use a small knife to help "pick" the inner shells off the chestnuts.
d. Chestnuts are fun and yummy.
I saw a simplified home-version of the "Wok-roasted chestnuts" technique and will probably try it out some time.
Yay for chestnuts.