Whether you roast your chestnuts over an open fire or boil them, these nuts—the edible fruit produced by a handful of deciduous trees and shrubs—can make a great addition to your meals as the holiday season approaches. They contain less calories than other nuts, such as walnuts and almonds, as well as dried fruit—plus, chestnuts are low in fat, gluten-free, and rich in vitamin C. Before heating, slice either a horizontal slash or a large X along the flat side of each chestnut; this will prevent the nuts from exploding. To prepare the outer skin for removal, bring to a boil then cover with cool water and simmer 3 minutes, then proceed with your recipe. Alternatively, you can boil and cook chestnuts completely in their skins, 15 to 25 minutes, then peel and use. To roast, bake peeled chestnuts at 400 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes.
>>Chestnut and Raisin Stuffing
Score and boil 1 pound chestnuts for 8 to 10 minutes (removing shell and pellicle). Reserve cooking liquid. Coarsely chop prepared chestnuts then add ½ to 1 cup of the reserved liquid. In a separate large bowl, combine 4 cups fresh bread crumbs, 2 tablespoons golden raisins, 2 garlic cloves (crushed), 4 celery stalks (finely chopped), 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, grated lemon zest, grated fresh ginger root, 6 tablespoons sherry, and salt and pepper to taste. Pour chestnut mixture over other ingredients. Pack stuffing loosely in the neck and body cavity of the bird, or bake in a covered casserole dish for 30 minutes at 325 degrees. Source: Chestnut Growers Inc.
>>Korean No-Bake Chestnut Cookies
Boil ½ pound chestnuts for 15 minutes, then simmer for 10 minutes. Rinse with cold water in strainer. Cut chestnuts in half lengthwise, scoop out insides, then mash in a bowl until there are no lumps. Put a wire strainer over a bowl, add the pounded chestnuts, then press and push them down with a wooden spoon so they go through the strainer. Set this chestnut powder aside. Add 2 tablespoons honey, ½ teaspoon cinnamon powder, and a pinch of salt in a small pot and cook over medium heat, stirring until well mixed. Pour over chestnut powder and mix well, then knead by hand to make dough. Separate dough into 12 pieces, then shape each piece into a teardrop-shaped cookie. Dip the larger end in honey then into chopped pine nuts, green tea powder, and/or roasted black sesame seeds. These are great served with tea!