This month we’re making a menu for a play: The Nutcracker! The story is so well-known and beloved that I knew it would be downright sinful to pass up the chance to make a menu for it. Plus, what better way to get in the mood for Christmas than with some Nutcracker food?
When I was brainstorming Christmasy, Nutcracker-themed recipes, roasted chestnuts sprang to mind almost immediately. I’d never made roasted chestnuts before planning this menu, so I was really excited to try them. There’s a little bit of a trick to making them easy to peel, but the warm, savory nuts inside are well worth the extra effort.
P.S. I used a method outlined on Tori Avey’s blog, which you can check out here.
- 15 raw chestnuts, whole
Makes 12-15 chestnuts (Expect to lose a few in the shelling process—chestnuts go bad quickly, and it can be hard to tell from the outside if one has spoiled. If a nut bursts open after roasting and its inside looks dark or gray, discard it.)
- Preheat your oven to 425°.
- Turn each nut onto it’s flat side, so the curved side is facing upward. Cut a large “X” across the top of the shell, far enough in that it pierces the shell but not so far that it gouges the nut within. You can use a paring knife or special chestnut knife, but I like to snip them with kitchen scissors.
- Next, place your chestnuts in a saucepan and fill the pan with just enough water to cover the chestnuts. Heat the water until simmering.
- Strain out the nuts and scatter them on a baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in the oven for 15 minutes or until the shells have burst open and the nut inside is golden yellow.
- Pour the hot nuts into a large bowl and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Allow to sit for 15 minutes (allowing the nuts to steam makes them easier to peel).
- Peel the shells and tough inner lining from the nuts, working quickly since the shells are easier to remove when warm. You can use the tip of a butter knife to pry open the shells if they’re giving you a hard time.
- Serve warm around an open fire with your favorite nutcracker companion.