In Portugal, St. Martin's Day is commonly associated with the celebration of the maturation of the year's wine, being traditionally the first day when the new wine can be tasted.
It is celebrated, around a bonfire, eating the magusto, chestnuts roasted under the embers of the bonfire (sometimes dry figs and walnuts), and drinking a local light alcoholic beverage called água-pé (literally "foot water", made by adding water to the pomace left after the juice is pressed out of the grapes for wine - traditionally by stomping on them in vats with bare feet, and letting it ferment for several days), or the stronger jeropiga (a sweet liquor obtained in a very similar fashion, with aguardente added to the water).
Having spent my childhood in Portugal, I vividly remember enjoying roasted chestnuts served in a cone made out of newspaper. It was one of our favorite things to do as the year drew to a close and the busy city center of Lisbon became lit with Christmas lights.
Even though I can't enjoy those anymore, I am still trying to bring that tradition to life each year for my children. Oven roasted Chestnuts are as close as I can get to the delicious fire roasted, but they are equally tasty and sure take me back in time.
Oven Roasted Chestnuts
Preheat the oven to 425 F. Using a sharp paring knife, make an X on each chestnut, make sure to cut through the skin so they can vent. Last thing you want is for them to explode in the oven, they make a huge mess.
Bake them for about 30 minutes or until the skin peels back on the chestnut. Shake the pan or stir them up a few times throughout the baking time.
To roast on an open fire:
Rinse and score the shells. Fire up your grill to medium-high. Put the nuts on the grates cut side down and close the lid. Roast until the shell peels back and begins to scorch and the meat starts to turn golden, perhaps 10 minutes.