Chestnuts are large brown edible nuts from the chestnut tree. The nuts are starchy and have a thin skin and a bitter peeling that surrounds the nut. Chestnuts trees grown in Europe, Asia and the United States. Many people prefer the flavor of the Italian chestnuts to those grown in Asia.
Don't confuse tree chestnuts with water chestnuts which are completely different and not related. Italian chestnuts are excellent roasted, boiled and make a very flavorful soup or stuffing for poultry.
If you don't have chestnuts try one of these substitutes:
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Chestnuts can be roasted in the shell, then peeled. Once peeled they can be boiled, candied, pureed, used in stuffing, soups and even candied. Fresh whole chestnuts can be found canned in water and sometimes in syrup. Use for savory dishes such as stuffings and soups or for sweets.
Whole chestnuts are easiest to shell by cutting an "X" in the flat side of the chestnut then roast until the peel begins to split open.