an armful of Sweet Chestnuts,
gathered on a long walk
The first thing here is to make sure you have gathered Sweet Chestnuts and not Horse Chestnuts. Horse Chestnuts normally grow with a single nut in the shell and while they are great for a game of conkers, they're not edible.
Sweet Chestnuts have lots of fine spikes on the outer shell and when opened you can see they grow in clusters of three to four.
Whichever method of cooking you choose, first carefully score the outer shell with a knife in a cross pattern.This will stop the chestnuts from popping when heated. Try not to cut into the flesh of the nut. To pan roast : Place a heavy bottom skillet over a medium heat, add the Sweet Chestnuts and cook through for about 10-15 minutes, moving them around regularly. To oven roast : Heat the oven to 200°c. Place the scored Sweet Chestnuts in an oven proof pan and roast for 20 - 30 minutes. To roast on an open fire or wood burning stove : With a good fire going remove the ash pan. Clean it out, place the Sweet Chestnuts in the pan and return to the stove. Leave them in the stove for 15 - 30 minutes depending on the intensity of the fire.
Or if you have an open fire, let it burn down to embers. Place a skillet with Sweet Chestnuts on the embers and heat through as in the pan roast instructions. You can buy a dedicated chestnut roaster to cook this way. Remove from the heat and as soon as the chestnuts are cool enough to handle, peel away the husk and inner white pith.
Eat as they come or dip in a little salt if preferred.