Packaged Prepared Chestnuts
Relieving freshly cooked nuts of their outer shell and skinlike pellicle is truly a heinous chore. So I use cooked, peeled packaged chestnuts. Online and in local markets, I see three primary varieties (above, from left) -- roasted, which are packed in jars; steamed and dry-packed in jars and cans or vacuum-packed in plastic; and steamed and packed with water in cans. Asian markets also sell cooked, peeled dried chestnuts (above, far right). In testing our recipes, I vastly preferred the roasted nuts in every case. The vacuum-packed nuts were less deeply flavored, and the water-packed nuts had an unpleasantly mushy texture and washed-out flavor. -- A.R.