Paladini Potpie

Adventures within The Crust!

Chestnuts Roasting…

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imagination“Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…”  I’ve always pictured a couple – seen from the back – sitting on the floor gazing into the fire.  They have their chestnuts sort of setting on the hearth, near the flames, maybe just inside the fireplace…and they wait for the nuts to pop open from the heat.  And then the guy reaches over and pulls one of them out. They laugh merrily as he waves his hand around.  “They’re a little hot,’ he warns, holding the fragrant chestnut meat invitingly toward her…

This was not the scene that played out in our house last night.

undauntedI was so excited to finally see chestnuts for sale. I had looked all over for them last summer, when I was making several Italian meals that called for chestnuts. “They are a seasonal item,” the produce man told me.

So finally, ‘tis the season!  I saw them for $4.75 a pound and promptly bought two pounds. I wanted to have plenty to last all year for those Italian recipes, and John and I had become obsessed with the idea of bringing Mel Torme and Bob Wells’ song to life right in our own home!

So how do you roast a chestnut? I looked at several sites on the internet and found all kinds of – often conflicting – instructions.  Most people roast them in the oven or on the barbecue grill.

Combining bits of information from here and there, we came up with our plan.

photo2To begin with, the nuts need to really be above the coals to roast. Not on the hearth near the flames. In fact the flames should be pretty much gone while the coals need to be very hot. So while we were waiting for our nice roaring fire to die down, we came up with the idea of using an 18” pizza screen, and sort of setting it across the metal basket that holds the burning logs in the fireplace.

photo8You are supposed to cut an “X” in the top of each chestnut. Which is not easy. The shells are hard and the slippery. I even discovered that there are special knives for cutting that “X”

My X’s were more like little slit holes.

photo 11It takes 20-30 minutes for the nuts to roast. Or 15-20 – depending on which instructions you follow.  And probably on how big the chestnuts are, and how hot the coals are.

And you are supposed to move them around so they won’t burn. Sure.

I have to say they smelled wonderful about 10 minutes into the process!  The shells were burned on the bottom, but they hadn’t popped open so we turned them over and let them go a little longer.

roasted nutFinally we figured they had to be done.  Once again, the scenario didn’t match the one in my mind. The guy had to carefully pull the pizza pan from above the coals, being careful not to dump the nuts into the fire. Balancing it in his oven-mittened hand he carried it to the roasted nuts burnedkitchen and plunked it down on the counter.  You have to open them while they are still hot or it will be hard to get the shells off. So the man and woman worked together, both of them waving their hands around…   “Hot, hot, hot!”

Most of the nuts were too hard to bite into. John said he is certain that song was really written by a dentist.

But one or two were perfect!

roasterSo here I am, still with about two pounds of chestnuts. ($4.75 a pound)  Undaunted, I will try again, but the next time it will be in the oven in this cute little chestnut roaster I found at a yard sale.

“And so I’m offering this simple phrase to kids from 1 to 92. Although it’s been said many times, many ways Merry Christmas to you!”

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Author: paladinipotpie

Welcome! My name is Andrena Paladini and this is a blog about family and love and faith and fun. I call it Paladini Potpie because a potpie is like an adventure in a crust. You never know what might come up, but it’s always going to be good! Think of the best potpie you’ve ever eaten…hot flaky crust holding a rich savory sauce and all kinds of pieces of meat and vegetables…and who knows what? As a family, we’ve chosen to live within the parameters of God’s love and protection. This is the crust of our Paladini Potpie. The crust never changes. Within this crust, the savory sauce of family love binds it all together. That is also fairly constant. But beyond the crust and the sauce we can add just about anything! Good ideas come our way and we’ve adopted and adapted them to add to what John calls our treasure box of memories. These stories and ideas from John’s treasure box of memories are the ingredients I’m putting into our Paladini Potpie. (Okay, so this ridiculous mixing of metaphors about treasure boxes and potpies is exactly what I’m talking about. Silly and ungrammatically correct. But both illustrations work… so we’ll mix them together and it’ll be just fine!) John and I have been married for 30 years. Our children have wonderfully doubled in number since David married Amanda, Monica married Dan, and Matthew married Sarah. And the newest little treats that have been added to our potpie are six adorable grandchildren - Ethan, Angelina, Nathan, Audrey, Maleia and Caleb! I hope you’ll subscribe to my Paladini Potpie blog, and keep up with all the fun new ingredients I add. Hopefully you’ll enjoy our stories and ideas, and find something you’ll want to put into your own potpie! Bon appétit!

2 thoughts on “Chestnuts Roasting…

  1. Thank you,  Merry Christmas to you and the whole family.  Love  and miss you. God Bless you Lil

  2. That was very interesting to read the path you took to do your chestnuts – what a great find to locate a chestnut roaster at a garage sale.

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