Christmas Chestnuts

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Chestnuts – It always amazes me how many people still haven’t tried these winter treasures.

I discovered them to be one of my favourite wintery, christmassy flavours about 7 years ago when I passed one of the hot roasted chestnut carts in the city. At £1.50 a bag, they were definitely worth a try and since that day I’ve been hooked – to this day it”s still what I look forward to the most about going shopping in Leeds in the cold!..

Chestnuts can be easily mistaken for conkers (horse chestnuts) and start to drop from the tree around the same time in early October. But when you crack open those spiky green cases, you should see three nuts in total – a flat middle one and two shiny round nuts either side. Although they can form a fantastic ingredient for stuffings, filled pasta or whole served with your sprouts and bacon on the Christmas day dinner table, my favourite way to enjoy them is simply whole, roasted, warm and plentiful.

Although this year I did venture into the countryside to pick my own, the ones you can buy from any supermarket are generally Italian chestnuts and are much larger – perfect for roasting.

Simply take a small knife to the brown shell, slice a shallow incision from the middle of the shell on the flat side, to the pointy tip. Put your chestnuts dry onto a baking tray and roast in the oven on 190°C for about 20 minutes. Allow to cool slightly then peel and enjoy!

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