Unlike roasting chestnuts in an oven, where all you have to do is line them up on a tray and slide them in, roasting over a fire will require proper utensils. For this purpose, you need either a chestnut roaster, or a long-handled frying pan with a lid, to roast the nuts in. Make sure the frying pan and lid are sturdy and fire-proof, as they will be held directly over the fire – a cast-iron skillet will be perfect for this purpose. However, do not use a non-stick pan, as these are completely ineffective for this purpose.
Now that you have your roaster, it is time to prepare the chestnuts. These are easily available at most stores, and you have the option of choosing from different varieties, such as Castagne (the more common variety) and Marroni (more expensive, and sweeter in taste). Rinse these in a colander to rid them of any dirt on the shell, and then pat them all dry individually and thoroughly. Then, use the paring knife to score an X on each chestnut, in order to allow steam to escape as they roast.
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Once they are prepped, place the chestnuts in the roaster or pan, in a single layer. Do not make multiple layers as this will cause them to roast unevenly. Fix on the lid of the roaster or frying pan (whichever you are using), and hold it over the fire – do not hold the pan directly in the fire. Once the nuts have been roasting for five minutes, give the pan a shake, so the nuts move around and begin roasting on the other side.
The entire roasting process should take around 15 to 20 minutes. The shells might get charred but the nuts will be perfectly roasted on the insides. You will know they are done when the shells begin to open on their own, and the chestnuts become tender. Take them off the fire (use oven mitts when handling hot utensils), let the chestnuts cool, then peel them and enjoy.
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