Chestnut purée was a standard side dish at my mother’s Thanksgiving dinner, and in honor of her, I try to include it at ours. The challenge comes in dealing with the chestnuts, which are a pain to cook, shell, and peel. Spend an evening with chestnuts, and you’ve got wrinkled, cracked finger tips the whole next day. But that’s okay; they’re worth it.
You can buy chestnuts in a jar if you’re in a hurry, but they’re not as good (and can cost $16.50). Here’s a history of the chestnut (said to be one of the earliest foods ever eaten by man), here’s an excellent description of how to shell them (I used the stove-top method), and here’s a chestnut purée recipe similar to my mom’s. Chestnuts are also delicious in turkey stuffing .