Roasted Chestnuts with Red Wine
Castagne al Vino

serves: 6 servings

Castagne al vino are a delightful reminder from Maremma that the simple pleasures of rustic life are truly irreplaceable. Roast some chestnuts and while still hot wrap them in a wine soaked cloth... wait a few minutes.... then peel and enjoy them with a glass of wine. The question is red or white wine. The Maremmani enjoy, as I do, red wine, a good Morellino. But white wine is also delicious.

3 pounds plump fresh chestnuts, in the shell
1 cup red or white wine


First, pan-roast the chestnuts: cut a short slit or cross in the shell of each chestnut and scatter them in a heavy skillet, one with a good cover and big enough for the nuts to roll around in one layer. Pour in a cup of water, cover the pan, turn the flame on high and cook for 5 minutes or more, shaking the pan frequently until all the water is evaporated. Check whether the shells have started to peel open: If they haven't, add more water and steam a bit longer.

Next, lower the heat and slowly roast the chestnuts in the dry pan, with the cover still on, for 15 to 20 minutes. Shake the pan every minute or two so the nuts roll around and don't burn. When the shells are toasted and the nut meats are tender, turn off the heat.

Meanwhile, put a clean absorbent cloth (like an old table napkin) in a wide shallow bowl or baking dish. Pour over enough wine that the cloth becomes saturated. Cover the chestnuts with the wet cloth while they're still hot, or wrap them in the cloth if it's big enough. Let the chestnuts absorb the wine for about 10-15 minutes before peeling and devouring them!