Temperatures are dropping fast and while the onset of winter means reluctantly digging out all the winter gear, it also means the return of the quintessential holiday snack immortalized by Nat King Cole’s “The Christmas Song”.
The comforting smell of roasted chestnuts with the monogrammed "X" sliced into each shiny brown shell immediately evokes the holiday season and the smoky, sweet flesh of the chestnut.
A Qi and Yang Tonic in this Holiday Classic
But it is also recognized by Chinese medicine as being a "Qi and yang tonic" that is sweet and warm, while its functions and indications include nourishing the stomach, fortifying the spleen, supplementing the kidneys and treating constitutional vacuity.
All this can translate into the useful application of eating or cooking with chestnuts to control a nagging holiday cough.
Unless you live in New York City where street vendors sell hot roasted chestnuts on cold winter days, you will likely be popping some of these in the oven yourself. My recommendation - you’ll want to make extra as they are versatile and delicious when mashed with potatoes, layered into a gratin, pureed into a silky soup and even in a comforting and healing hot breakfast congee.
Enjoy the holidays!
Roasted Chestnuts with Thyme and Sea Salt
Prep Time / Cook Time
15 minutes / around 25 minutes
1 Pound Whole Chestnuts in the Shell
2 Ounces Unsalted Butter
A Few Sprigs Fresh Thyme
A Couple Pinches Sea Salt
Score the flat side of each chestnut with a pairing knife (BE CAREFUL!) and soak in hot water for a couple minutes. Strain and toss with melted butter, sea salt and thyme. Place on a baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until the shells begin to peel back and they smell nicely roasted. Remove from oven while still warm remove shells and as much of the skin as possible.
The recipes on The Way are intended as an East meets West look at food and its relationship to health and nutrition. Food is powerful, and every bite can either greatly benefit your system or effectively work against it. In Chinese Medicine, each grain, vegetable, meat, fruit, and spice has unique properties that can be harnessed to help us achieve and maintain balance in our bodies. Our recipes seek to incorporate some of the age-old principles of Chinese medicine into the culinary practices more familiar to the West.