Roasted over a fragrant charcoal fire, chestnuts are the most festive (and let’s face it, picturesque) cocktail snack of the season.
Serves 4 to 6, as a snack
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
After the skillet of chestnuts is placed in the embers, the hard shell will begin to open after 5 minutes or so. They’ll need another 5-7 minutes (with gently stirring) to achieve the ideal buttery, creamy texture.
1 pound fresh chestnuts in their shell
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
Holy Garlic seasoning
Remove the top cooking grate, set up your grill for two-zone cooking, and build a medium fire. While the coals heat, prep the chestnuts.
Place the chestnuts on a cutting board and use a paring knife or serrated knife (I used my favorite bread knife) to score the flat side of the chestnut (cut just deep enough to expose the inside of the nut). Place the chestnuts score-side up in a cast iron skillet (it’s best to roast a pound of chestnuts in two batches, so they’re easier to wrangle over the heat).
When the coals are glowing red and covered with a fine gray ash, nestle the skillet in the coals, keeping the handle extended away from the fire so it’s easier to handle. Roast the chestnuts with the grill lid open for about 5 minutes, until the shells begin to open. Then continue to roast, stirring gently every few minutes, for an additional 5-7 minutes. Rotate the skillet as needed for even cooking. The goal is cooking the nuts through till they have a tender, slightly creamy consistency without burning any one side.
Using tongs or gloves, remove the skillet to a heat-safe surface. Repeat with remaining chestnuts. When the chestnuts are cool enough to handle, use a paring knife or your fingers to peel the shell. Place the warm, peeled chestnuts in a serving dish with the butter, a sprinkle of Holy Garlic seasoning and a pinch of flake salt; gently toss to combine and serve immediately.