Roasted chestnuts are lovely for Christmas but I think also equally lovely for a Bonfire Night party. Delicious when simply roasted, shelled, and sprinkled with salt (or rolled in melted butter, cinnamon and sugar).
To do your own you really don’t need an open fire. What you do need is a chestnut roasting pan – easy to get online and in some cookware shops. I know Selfridges has them. They’re like frying pans with holes in to let the chestnuts get some direct heat.
Score a cross into the flat side of each nut before roasting. That stops them exploding and will help you peel the skin away. Jiggle them around for about 10 minutes in the pan over a medium heat, until the skins are nicely charred and starting to open.
Then tip the nuts into a bowl that’s lined with a cloth, wrap them up to keep them warm as you go, and get peeling as soon as your fingers can bear to touch them. I find a friendly squeeze helps the thick brown outer-shell and its inner hessian-like layer come away to reveal the beautiful nut within.
If you can’t get hold of a chestnut pan then a normal frying pan will do the job. Or roast them for approx 10 minutes in a 200C oven – but do remember to score the skin first or they’ll ricochet around your oven.