How to roast chestnuts on an open fire
The most popular method of cooking chestnuts is roasting. Do not roast a chestnut until one or two holes have been punctured in each shell with an ice pick or knife. Or use a sharp knife to cut a 1⁄2-inch “X” on the flat side of each nut, cutting down to the meat. If the shell is not punctured, steam pressure will build up and cause the nuts to explode either before or after they come out of the oven.
To Roast Over Fire: Prick each chestnut, as indicated above, before roasting. Using a long-handled, covered utensil with a perforated bottom – such as a popcorn popper or chestnut roaster – shake the utensil gently over the fire until the shells open and the nuts become toasty and brown. Partially cool and peel while still warm.
To Roast in the Oven: Prick each chestnut, as indicated above, before roasting. Preheat the oven to 300 to 325 °F. Spread the nuts on a cookie sheet and bake, stirring occasionally for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the shells open and the nuts are golden brown and can be removed easily. Partially cool and peel while still warm.
Additional hints: To puncture the chestnuts, place the nut on a dish towel or oven mitt to keep it from rolling while cutting it. Also, take care when peeling as the nuts will be very hot. Nuts that have not been punctured can explode while in the oven and after they are removed from the oven. Roasted chestnuts can be served plain, dipped in butter, sprinkled with cinnamon or salt.
Sources: Alabama Cooperative Extension System, Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service.