We've all heard the classic holiday carols about chestnuts roasting on an open fire, but few of us have actually tried grilling chestnuts ourselves. If you've never had a grilled or roasted chestnut, you'll be surprised by their rich flavor and meaty, firm texture. While chestnuts may look like nuts or seeds, they're technically vegetables and have a starchy quality similar to rice or potatoes. They're also low in fat and high in fiber and nutrients. Not only do chestnuts taste great, but they also produce a sweet and smoky smell when cooked.
You can grill chestnuts indoors or out. No matter where you cook them, you must puncture the shell of each chestnut with a sharp knife before cooking. Otherwise, they may burst and cause injury or burns. When grilling indoors, use a chestnut pan, which has holes in the bottom for fast cooking. Lay the chestnuts in a single layer and toss them in your pan like you would with popcorn. Keep the heat on a medium setting and cook for five to 10 minutes. Outdoors, the chestnuts can be placed in a grill basket and cooked for around 20 minutes. Keep the basket away from the flames, and remove the chestnuts from the heat when the shells begin to blacken. Serve immediately so that the shells can be peeled more easily [source: Fante's]. While chestnuts are naturally sweet, they can be flavored with syrup or nutmeg to enhance this sweetness. You can also sprinkle them with salt to slightly offset the sweetness as desired.