For handling chestnuts:
- A quick and easy way to peel fresh chestnuts: using a small sharp knife, make an “x” on the flat side of each chestnut.
- Soak the chestnuts in water for about an hour, then drain.
- Roast the chestnuts in a cast-iron skillet in a 400° oven for about 20 minutes, or until tender.
- Peel as soon as they are cool enough to handle.
When shopping for chestnuts, look for smooth skins and a nice shine; feel for chestnuts that are quite hard—the leathery skin should be firmly attached to the nut itself.
If cooking with fresh chestnuts still seems too cumbersome, vacuum-packed imported whole chestnuts in a jar are an easy and delicious alternative.