Once, and I think only once, I tried to begin a new year on a “clean” diet–a mini-cleanse of sorts. And that really went against my better judgement. I more or less obsess about eating “well”: no fake/pre-packaged food and all-organic as much as possible, and I do try to be aware of over-indulging (it counts if you’re aware while you’re doing it, doesn’t it?) But when it comes to the new year, I was raised to believe that what happens on and around the 1st, happens all year. And there’s no way I want my year to be austere. I want it to be full, rich and quite frankly, luxurious. It makes much more sense to start the year off with foods that I want to be surrounded by all year long. The kind of food you splurge on at restaurants or the kind you dream up to serve the special people in your life at a dinner party. Or the kind simply drenched in something gold and rich–simply covered in butter.
These chestnuts are just that, bathed in butter, but make are particulary new year’s-worthy to me because they require complete focus. You must eat them relatively slowly because they require peeling, and that requires your attention. So it’s you and this indulgent, dense, salty, herb-scented, roasted chestnut, slicked with butter, and this moment. And if there’s one thing I am swearing to do right from the start of this year, it’s doing my damnedest to appreciate all the moments as they unfurl.
Dan Roman’s Buttery Roasted Chestnuts in Foil
(via Bon Appetit)
2 pounds fresh unshelled chestnuts
2-3 sprigs rosemary
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
2 teaspoons (or more) kosher salt
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 425°. Place a large sheet of foil on a rimmed baking sheet. Place chestnuts, flat side down, on a work surface. Using a utility knife or a sharp paring knife, carefully cut through the shell on the rounded side of each chestnut to score an X. Soak in a bowl of hot water for 1 minute (this helps them steam while roasting).
Drain chestnuts and pat dry; place in a medium bowl. Add rosemary, butter, 2 teaspoons salt, and nutmeg. Season with pepper and toss to thoroughly coat. Arrange chestnuts in a single layer in center of foil (a few might overlap) and gather up edges of foil around chestnuts, leaving a large opening on top.
Roast until the peel begins to curl up and chestnuts are cooked through, 30-45 minutes, depending on size and age of nuts.
Transfer chestnuts to a platter, using a spatula to scrape in any butter and spices with them, and toss to coat. Season with more salt, if desired. Serve hot or warm.