Holidays are times when roasted mixed nuts in their shells are served. When you crack the shells open, the nuts seem to taste better. Roasting mixed nuts in the shell can be tricky since the nuts have different shell thicknesses that affect the preparation, cooking process and roasting time. It will take awhile to master the art of roasting mixed nuts in the shell, but you can work around the different cooking times with careful preparation.
Prepare chestnuts by washing them in cold water and soaking them in lukewarm water for at least 20 minutes to soften the shells. Place the nuts, flat-side down, on a cutting board and make a shallow X-cut on the top side of each nut. Use a sharp knife, but take care that you do not cut through to the meat of the chestnut. Another way is to soak a clean rag in warm water and wipe each chestnut with it before scoring each one.
Salt pistachios before you roast them. Put them in ¼ cup of water in a saucepan and add 1 tsp. of salt, and then heat until the water is boiling. Add 2 cups of raw pistachio nuts into the water, allow the water to boil and stir. Continue boiling until the water has evaporated before removing the pistachios.
Score almonds, hazelnuts and Brazil nuts before you roast them, as they have harder and thicker shells. This ensures even cooking and allows the heat to penetrate the shells faster. Use a chef’s knife or a butcher’s knife to make slits on the shells of these nuts before roasting them. The slits will allow the steam to escape as the nuts are roasting, thus preventing the nuts from exploding inside the oven.
Assemble the mixed nuts, using several lipped baking trays, as the nuts should not touch each other. Place the smaller nuts, such as peanuts, on the middle of the tray and the larger nuts on the outside. Arrange the hazelnuts around the peanuts and place the almonds next. The cooking time for these nuts is between 15 to 20 minutes in a 350-degree-Fahrenheit oven. Drizzle 1 tsp. of olive oil over the shells to enhance the flavor of the nuts.
Place Brazil nuts in the center of another baking tray before surrounding them with the chestnuts. The chestnuts will take longer to cook, so these are placed on the side of the baking tray. The cooking time will be from 15 to 25 minutes, with the oven preheated to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. You can also add 1 tsp. of olive oil to intensify the flavors of these nuts.
Roast the pistachios. These will take about one-and-a-half to two hours to roast, and the oven temperature is lowered to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Place these nuts on a separate baking tray.
Stir the nuts halfway through the roasting period to ensure that they roast evenly. Turn the larger nuts over rather than stirring them. The best way to check for doneness is to get a nut and crack it open to see if the meat is cooked.
Roasted nuts will easily turn rancid so make sure that you roast the mixed nuts at least a day before you plan to serve them. The mixed nuts should be stored in airtight containers after they have sufficiently cooled. Add salt and other seasoning while the mixed nuts are still hot, except for the pistachios, which are already salted. Season the rest of the mixed nuts before adding the pistachios.