My father uses the microwave. Working with about 5 chestnuts at a time, he slits each chestnut almost all the way around its circumference, leaving the shell connected in one spot (there is a black dot on the chestnut that he uses as the hinge). Then he lays the nuts on a plate and microwaves them on high power for 40 seconds. The shells pop open like clams. He wets his fingers in cold water and pulls off the shells before the chestnuts cool. Repeat until all the chestnuts are peeled. The fresh ones really are better than the jarred, and he says it takes him only 15 minutes to do a pound.

Ingredients
 
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, more if needed
  • 1 large onion (about 10 ounces), diced
  • 2 celery stalks, trimmed and sliced
  • 1 teaspoon plus pinch kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon plus pinch freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 10 ounces mushrooms (1 box), sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 pound chestnuts (see Note), roasted, peeled, and coarsely chopped
  • 10 ounces bread, preferably stale, cubed (6 to 7 cups)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock, plus additional if needed
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
Instructions

1. In a skillet over medium-high heat, heat 4 tablespoons butter. Cook the onion, celery, 1/2 teaspoon salt, the pepper, and nutmeg until the onion is golden and soft, about 10 minutes. Scrape the mixture into a large mixing bowl.

2. Add another 2 tablespoons butter to the skillet and heat. Cook the mushrooms and garlic with 1/2 teaspoon salt until the mushrooms are golden brown, 7 to 10 minutes. Scrape the mixture into the mixing bowl.

3. Add the chestnuts and bread to the bowl with the vegetables and toss to combine.

4. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs with the chicken or vegetable stock, parsley, sage, and remaining pinch of salt and pepper. Pour the egg mixture into the chestnut-bread mixture and stir well to combine.

5. Stuff the stuffing into the turkey, or place in a 9-12-inch baking pan. Dot the top of the stuffing with more butter if baking in a pan. If using a baking pan, bake at 375°F until the top is light golden brown and the middle is almost set, 30 to 35 minutes.

Note: You can use a 14-ounce jar of peeled roasted chestnuts for this, or roast and peel your own chestnuts.

From In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite by Melissa Clark. Copyright © 2010 Melissa Clark, Inc. Published by Hyperion. Available wherever books are sold. All Rights Reserved.