David Rocco's Recipe for Castagne Umbriacchi (Drunken Chestnuts)
I love roasted chestnuts. In Italy, you can tell when fall is thinking about to turning to winter by the smell of roasting chestnuts wafting from the little carts on the street. They’re a tradition at Christmas. When friends drop in, I like to make this treat. If you think that roasted chestnuts are a thing of beauty, wait until you taste what happens when they spend a little time hanging out with some rum.
- 24 roasted chestnuts, peeled
- 2 tbsp (30 mL) sugar
- 1/2 cup (250 mL) rum, to taste
Roasting chestnuts is easy. Make a slit in them so they don’t explode as they cook. You can put them in an oven at 400ºF (200ºF) for about 20 minutes. Or if you have access to an open fire, that’s even better. You can buy a special pan to cook them in that has holes in the bottom to let the flames get right in there, which adds a smokiness to the nuts.
Or you can roast the chestnuts on a stovetop in a dry frying pan on medium-high heat, shaking the pan every so often. It should take about 30 minutes.
Once they’ve been roasted, let them cool just enough that you can handle them and peel them.
Put the peeled roasted chestnuts in a large mixing bowl and add the sugar and rum.
Now you’re going to flambé this, so be careful. Here’s how you do it: Light a match. Tilt your bowl so that some of the rum is exposed to the flame. It will light up, and the alcohol will burn off fairly quickly. While it’s flaming, stir continuously to dissolve the sugar, until the rum has reduced to a thick syrup and the flame has died out.