Roasted chestnuts are a great treat during fall and winter. My family particularly enjoys roasting chestnuts in the woods, cooked on a bed of hot coals. At home, we set chestnuts on top of the woodstove for about 5 minutes on each side. It is okay if the shells burn a little, the nut is usually fine inside. I prefer them slightly over-cooked. Recommended cooking times and temps vary, but there is no wrong way to roast a chestnut. Cook it less and it will be crunchier, longer and it’ll be softer.
Before roasting, the shell needs to be vented, otherwise the nut might explode as steam inside tries to escape. Slicing the shell also makes peeling a lot easier. Many people slice an “x” into the shell, but all that is necessary is one slice across the middle. Try not to cut through the whole nut, just through the shell. A very sharp knife helps, and a chestnut knife, curved like a hook and specifically made for cutting rounded nuts, is very safe and useful.
–Akiva Silver, Fedco grower