As I type, my parents are probably peeling chestnuts. It's not because they're in their seventies and don't have anything to do, but rather that we eat a lot of chestnuts during our holiday meals. It's a tedious task, but they do it as a team and it's a ritual they share. (Chestnuts are enjoyed in China, Japan, Korea, and throughout Southeast Asia (as I learned from Robyn and Rasa Malaysia. They originally came from West Asia and have been cultivated in China for as long as they've been cultivated in Europe!)
Once the nuts are peeled, my mom simmers them in broth with butter, canned chicken broth and cilantro. Many years ago, when she forgot to buy parsley, she substituted cilantro and found the flavor to be extremely agreeable so we've made the chestnuts that way ever since. The buttery sweet results go into the sticky rice stuffing and are served as a side dish. She reserves the biggest whole ones to serve on the side and will likely say, "There's enough so that you each get X number." We savor each one because we know that we won't have them again on our menu until next year.
My parents are into feeding a crowd so they're working on several pounds of chestnuts. You don't have to be as over-achieving as they are. Here's my family chestnut recipe to launch you on your way:
Chestnuts Simmered with Butter and Cilantro
Makes about 2 cups
11/2 cups shelled and peeled chestnuts (3/4 pound unpeeled), whole ones halved lengthwise
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
5 sprigs cilantro
2 cups or more low-sodium canned chicken broth
Select a small saucepan in which the chestnuts may lay in more or less one layer. Add the butter, cilantro, and broth to cover by 1/2 inch. Bring to a simmer, partially cover, and simmer softly for about 20 minutes, or until the nuts are tender-firm and still holding their shape. Avoid boiling or the nuts will disintegrate. When done, some pieces will be intact while others will have broken apart. Set aside to cool. Use in your stuffing or serve as a side dish.
Related post: Tips on buying, storing, shelling and peeling chestnuts