Food & Drink

August 13, 2014

Five from the field: Peanuts

If you went to the Pelion Peanut Party over the weekend and overindulged in boiled, briny goodness or have seen raw peanuts in the grocery stores and wondered what to do with them, then this column is for you.

If you went to the Pelion Peanut Party over the weekend and overindulged in boiled, briny goodness or have seen raw peanuts in the grocery stores and wondered what to do with them, then this column is for you.

I picked up a half-bushel basket at the S.C. State Farmers Market last week and decided to try the recipes below.

It’s been a while since I’ve dealt with raw peanuts (Grandpa decided to grow them in the garden one year during the Carter administration; you do the math) and I had forgotten how hard they are to shell (you only need to do this for the Roasted Peanuts with Rosemary and Garlic recipe). My advice: if you don’t have a nutcracking set, find a small pair of pliers. Really.

Also, because I made the mistake of not asking the grower which variety of peanut I was purchasing, I believe that I walked away with a lower-oil variety of peanut because, even though I followed the directions on How to Make Peanut Butter, I never got the smooth butter promised. I’m including the recipe and variations anyway, in case someone wants to try.

Go nuts!

Recipes, page D4


How to Boil Peanuts

Figure about 1/2 pound per person

Raw peanuts (in the shell): As many as you can fit in your pot, to about 1/2 full.

Water: Enough to float the peanuts in the pot, to about 2/3 full. Measure the amount of water used.

Salt: About 8 tablespoons (1/2 cup) per gallon of water used. 1 tablespoon of salt per pint of water.

Rinse the raw peanuts several times to remove debris. Put the rinsed raw peanuts in a stove pot, or a slow cooker. Add water to the pot, enough to float the peanuts, leaving at least 1-inch room at the top of the pot. Measure the water as you add it. Mix in about 8 tablespoons, 1/2 cup, of salt per gallon of water.

Bring the water, peanuts, and salt to a boil. Boiling tie depends on whether you have green peanuts or raw dried peanuts.

Green peanuts need to boil at least 1 hour, up to 4 hours. Dried raw peanuts must be cooked much longer. Dried peanuts may require boiling up to 24 hours until they soften. If your water is hard, full of minerals, or you are boiling at high altitude, then your boiling times for dried peanuts may be greater than 24 hours.

Do not be tempted to add salt before the peanuts are fully softened, and saturated with the brine. This is a common mistake. If a recipe says “Remove the peanuts quickly from the liquid or they will be too salty,” then they called for too much salt in the first place. When the right amount of salt is used per unit water, the boiled peanuts could soak for days in the brine, in the refrigerator, and not become too salty. Cooking beyond done will not improve the quality, but they will still be good if left soaking. Boiled peanuts become more moist, and flavorful as they soak in the brine. Fortunately, there is a wide margin of time for boiling tasty peanuts. It’s not hard to learn how to boil peanuts, as long as you taste them periodically as they cook.

From the National Peanut Board


Roasted Peanuts with Rosemary and Garlic

Makes about 2 cups

4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

12 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced

6 tablespoons rosemary leaves

2 cups raw peanuts, shelled

1 tablespoon salt

5 dried pequin chillies or 5 pinches of red pepper flakes, or more to taste

Heat the olive oil in a wide pan with high sides over a medium-high heat until it just begins to smoke. Add the garlic, adjust the heat as necessary to keep at a steady sizzle, and cook for about 5 minutes, until the garlic has some golden brown spots. Tip the pan occasionally so the oil pools and almost covers the garlic.

Push the garlic to one side of the pan, put the rosemary in the oil next to the garlic, and add the peanuts to the space remaining in the pan. Turn the heat down to medium and let the rosemary sizzle in the oil for a minute, stirring it a little, then stir it all together. Let them all quietly and steadily sizzle for about 4 minutes – you’re infusing the flavors into the peanuts and reinvigorating them, as well as cooking the garlic more so it’ll be soft and creamy. Stir and toss the peanuts often, so they all get to spend some time against the bottom of the pan.

Sprinkle on the salt, crumble in the chillies, stir well and cook for a minute more.

Take the pan off the heat and let the peanuts carry on cooking gently in the hot pan, stirring now and then, until they’ve cooled a bit. Taste, and stir in a more salt or crumbled chillies if you fancy it. Serve warm or at room temperature.

adapted from A Girl and Her Pig, April Bloomfield

Boiled Peanut Hummus

Makes 1 cup

1 cup shelled boiled peanuts

2 tablespoons tahini

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

pinch of ground red pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

Garnishes: olive oil, shelled boiled peanuts

Process the first seven ingredients in a food processor until coarsely chopped, stopping to scrape down sides. With food processor running, pour olive oil through food chute in a slow, steady stream, processing until mixture is smooth. Stir in up to 5 tablespoons water, one tablespoon at a time, for desired spreading consistency. Garnish of desired. Serve with pita chips.

Southern Living, Sept. 2007


Suya

Serves 6

2 pounds of sirloin steak

1/4 cup roasted peanuts

1/2 to 1 tablespoon cayenne

1 tablespoon smoked paprika

1 tablespoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon onion powder

1 tablespoon white pepper

1/2 to 1 tablespoon hot ground pepper

1 tablespoon bouillon

1/4 cup vegetable or olive oil

Salt

Soak 12 skewers for at least 20 minutes totally submerged in water before using, to prevent burning.

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Lightly spray or oil a baking sheet or roasting pan.

In a wide, flat plate, mix together the cayenne, smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, white pepper, hot pepper and bouillon. Set aside.

Shell roasted peanuts and grind nuts until finely crushed. Add to spice mixture.

Pat steaks dry and slice along diagonal into thin strips. Rub strips with spicy peanut mixture and thread onto skewers.

Place skewers on to prepared pan and drizzle with oil. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Towards the last 3 minutes of cooking, switch oven to broiler setting to get a crisp brown on the outside of the meat. Serve warm

adapted from AfricanBites.com


Chocolatey-Peanuty Popcorn

Serves 2-6 as a snack

6 heaping cups popped corn

1/2 cup ground roasted unsalted peanuts

1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1/4 cup honey

Salt

Put the popped corn in a large bowl with the peanuts and a pinch of salt.

In a medium bowl, melt the chocolate in a microwave oven. Add the honey and stir until smooth. Pour melted chocolate honey mixture over popcorn. Mix everything together with your hands. Serve.


How To Make Homemade Peanut Butter

Makes about 1 1/2 cups

2 cups (16 ounces) raw, shelled peanuts

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

1-2 tablespoons peanut oil or other oil (optional, for creamier peanut butter)

1-2 tablespoons honey or other sweetener (optional, for sweeter peanut butter)

Optional Add-Ins: 1-2 tablespoons cocoa powder, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon or other spice, handful of chocolate chips, a few spoonfuls of Nutella

Roast the peanuts (optional): Heat the oven to 350°F and toast the peanuts on a baking sheet until lightly golden and glossy with oil, about 10 minutes. You can skip this step if you prefer raw nut butter or if you’re using pre-toasted nuts; roasting gives the peanut butter a deeper flavor and also helps make the oils looser and easier to blend into a smooth butter.

Transfer the peanuts to a food processor or blender. If you toasted your nuts, do this while the nuts are still warm. Pulse a few times just until chopped.

For chunky peanut butter, remove 1/2 cup of chopped nuts and set aside.

Process for 1 minute: Run the food processor or blender continuously for 1 minute. Stop and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. At this point, the peanut butter will look gritty and dry, almost like couscous.

Process for 1 minute: Run the food processor or blender continuously for another minute, then stop and scrape down the sides. At this point, the butter will start clumping together. It’s not quite peanut butter, but it’s getting there!

Process for 1 minute: Run the food processor or blender continuously for another minute, then stop and scrape down the sides. At this point, the butter will be glossy and soft, like very thick peanut butter.

Add the salt, oil, sweetener, and any other extras: Sprinkle the salt, oil, sweetener, and any other extras over the top of the peanut butter.

Process for 1 to 2 additional minutes: Continue processing the butter until it becomes completely smooth. Homemade peanut butter will still be a little more gritty than Skippy peanut butter, but should be spreadable at this point. Taste and add more salt or other add-ins to taste. If you reserved some nuts for chunky peanut butter add them now and pulse a few times to incorporate.

Transfer the peanut butter to storage container: Scrape the peanut butter into a storage container, cover, and refrigerate. The peanut butter can be used immediately and will keep for several weeks in the fridge.

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