Roast chestnuts are typical of All Saints’ Day, when the families come together round the fire to enjoy char-grilled meat, make toast rubbed with a clove of garlic and have chestnuts for dessert. You can even pour a good dose of sweet aniseed liqueur into the water jug to give them a special aroma. Whenever a large group of people get together, this is the moment to make the castanyada, for which you need a large chestnut roasting pan and a good fire. At this time of year during the festivities of the city of Girona, you will find numerous chestnut vendors whose delicious autumn smell wafts through the streets.
It is important that the chestnuts should be this season’s, collected recently or within the last few days, as they are fresher, contain more water and are more tender. If they are old it is better to boil them.
Make a small cut in the chestnuts on the flatter side. Puncture an old frying pan from the outside to the inside so that the metal grating touches the chestnuts. This will mean the shell comes off more easily. Prepare a good fire. In wine-producing areas, the new vine shoots are often added to the fire with the older wood. Roast the chestnuts in the frying pan, moving continually so they cook evenly. If they give off a lot of smoke, sprinkle over some water. Occasionally remove a chestnut to check if it's cooked. Once cooked, arrange in a bag so they continue cooking in their own heat. They should be eaten while still hot, accompanied by a good muscatel wine, a garnacha from l'Empordà, mature wine, a malvasía from Sitges, mistela, Banyuls or a sweet white or red Mauri wine, all extraordinarily good.