Nut Case

Though the songs that play this time of year wax nostalgic about chestnuts roasting over open fires, the technique doesn't translate well to most home kitchens. Thankfully, chestnuts are easy to roast in the oven. My preferred method is to score and cook the raw nuts with a little water: The moisture makes it easy to slip off their stubborn inner skins when you're prepping them for holiday dishes such as roasted onion and chestnut compote. —Judy Haubert

Choose smooth, unblemished nuts with glossy, dark brown shells (discard nuts with soft spots, discolorations, cracks, or pinholes). Grip a chestnut firmly with a kitchen towel, flat side up, and use a sharp knife to score an “X” through the outer shell.Brenda Weaver
Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil, allowing several inches to hang over the edge. Place chestnuts in a single layer on the tray, scored side up; gather the edges of the foil around the chestnuts, creating a pouch with several inches open at the top. Pour ¼ cup water into the pouch.Brenda Weaver
Roast until the shells begin to curl back and the chestnut meat is tender when pierced with a knife, about 30 minutes. Let chestnuts cool slightly, then peel away the hard shells and slip the inner skins off the meat.Brenda Weaver
The nuts are easier to peel while they're still warm, so take them from the foil one at a time, returning the chestnuts to the oven to reheat if they cool down too much.Brenda Weaver