Roasting chestnuts on an open fire? Impossible without a chestnut roaster. Fortunately, these old-fashioned items can be found for $10.99 at Fante’s Kitchen Ware shop (search “Chestnut Roaster”).
How do you make the requisite pre-roasting X on the flat side of the chestnut, from which the outer shell peels back neatly post-roast? An ordinary paring knife will do, but a chestnut knife ($6.50, also at Fante’s), with its curled-at-the-tip blade, makes it much easier to get a clean cut.
A Chestnutter, $24.99, is even simpler, making a flawless X every time with a single squeeze (the perfect for gadget for those who have, and use, say, a cherry pitter or apple corer). Fante’s site also offers detailed directions for open-fire, oven-roasting and boiling chestnuts.
Now all you need are the nuts; Colossals are best for roasting. Order them for $6 a pound direct from Girolami Farms, a third-generation grower in California.