Cooking with Tammy Kelly: Fresh green peanuts in the South!
Did you know that North Carolina ranks fifth in the United States in peanut production? North Carolina has about 5,000 peanut farms that produce 292 million pounds of peanuts each year. The majority of NC peanuts are consumed out-of-hand as cocktail peanuts, instead of processed into peanut butter or other candies. Peanuts are super high in protein and Vitamin B. We often take peanuts for granted and being a major crop in the North Carolina picture of agriculture.
Peanuts are currently being harvested and if you are lucky enough to be able to snag some fresh green peanuts, you are lucky. If you happened to never have tasted boiled peanuts, now is your chance. This damp salty snack is a staple at fall football games and other events. The basic salty boiled peanut is my personal favorite but you can change them up by adding sweet and salty spices to your recipe.
Southern Boiled Peanuts
(This recipe is borrowed from The Lee Brothers Southern Cookbook, but is a pretty common way to cook this treat)
1 1/2 cups salt, divided, plus more to taste
2 pounds raw peanuts in the shell
Dissolve 1/2 cup salt in 2 gallons water in a 3-gallon stockpot; add peanuts. (Weigh down peanuts, if desired, with a large plate or lid to ensure they're fully submerged.) Soak 8 hours or overnight.*
Drain water; refill pot with 2 gallons water and remaining 1 cup salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, covered, 5 to 8 hours or until peanuts are tender, adding water as needed to keep peanuts covered; stir occasionally. (South Carolina-style peanuts are very soft, but some cooks prefer them al dente.) When the peanuts have boiled 3 hours, check for texture and saltiness. If the peanuts are not salty enough, add salt in 1/4-cup increments, turn off heat, and let soak 1 hour. Check peanuts for seasoning every hour.
Remove from heat, and cool 1 hour.
Drain and eat immediately or store (in the shell) in a sealed container in the refrigerator or freezer. Boiled peanuts will keep 7 days in the refrigerator, several months in the freezer.
*The soaking step is not essential, but it reduces the cooking time by a couple of hours and helps ensure that the peanuts cook more thoroughly and uniformly. The salt in the soaking liquid keeps yeasts and molds from developing overnight.
Boiled Peanut Hummus
1 cup shelled boiled peanuts
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
1 1/2 teaspoons hot sauce
1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
Garnish: fresh cilantro sprigs
Process peanuts, water, cilantro, lime juice, 2 Tbsp. olive oil, peanut butter, hot sauce, garlic, and cumin in a food processor until smooth. Sprinkle with pepper. Serve with any fresh vegetables or crackers. Garnish with fresh cilantro sprigs.
Skillet Roasted Peanuts
3 cups raw peanuts
1/2 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 350º F.
Place peanuts in a single layer in a skillet. Place in the oven and roast for 15 to 20 minutes, until nuts just begin to turn brown. They will continue to cook after removed from the oven as they are cooling.
Remove from the oven and toss with salt until well coated. Allow to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.
Honey Roasted Peanuts
1 lb. peanuts (preferably raw)
1/3 cup honey
2 Tbsp. butter
2 tsp. salt (divided use)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup sugar (granulated)
Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with aluminum foil and spraying the foil with nonstick cooking spray. Preheat the oven to 325 F.
Place the butter, honey, vanilla, cinnamon, and 1 tsp. salt in a large microwave-safe bowl and microwave until the butter is melted, about 45 seconds, stirring halfway through. Once melted, stir until the liquid is smooth.
Add the peanuts to the honey mixture and stir until they're all coated. Pour the peanuts out onto the prepared baking sheet and spread them into an even layer.
Bake the peanuts for a total of 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes to prevent burning. The peanuts at the edges will brown faster, so it's important to stir regularly to get an even roasting.
Once the peanuts are golden brown, remove them from the oven and stir again to distribute the honey on the baking sheet. After a minute or two, sprinkle the granulated sugar and remaining 1 tsp. salt on top and stir again, to give them a bit of texture. As they cool at room temperature, stir occasionally, to break up any big clumps.
Once the peanuts have cooled completely, place them in an airtight container or plastic bag and store them at room temperature.
Serves 12, each serving contains; Calories 277, Fat 21 g., Carbohydrates 18 g., Protein 10 g.
1 cup sugar
½ cup water
2 cups raw peanuts (skin on)
Preheat oven to 300. In a medium saucepan, combine sugar and water. Place over medium heat and stir until sugar dissolves.
Add peanuts to sugar water and continue to cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the peanuts are completely sugar coated and no sugar syrup remains, about thirty minutes.
Pour out onto ungreased cookie sheet and spread out a bit. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring every ten minutes. Allow to cool on cookie sheet and then store in sealed container.
Barbecue Shrimp with Boiled Peanuts Appetizer
(Adapted from a Food Republic Recipe)
Georgia Style Boiled Peanuts
2 cups green Georgia peanuts (or other large raw peanuts), shelled
2 slices Benton's bacon
1 Vidalia onion, small diced
1 fresh bay leaf
2 tablespoons sea salt
2 quarts chicken stock
In a pressure cooker, render bacon until it’s about halfway to crispy.
Add onions and sweat until translucent. Add remaining ingredients to the pot and pressure cook at full pressure for 40 minutes.
Depressurize cooker by running cold water over the lid.
Adjust seasoning as desired with salt and set aside.
Carolina Barbecue Shrimp
20 21/25 Carolina shrimp (head on preferably), peeled and deveined
2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
Sea salt, as needed
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/4 cup pickled garlic, sliced (alternatively use sliced garlic that's been toasted in butter)
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 lemon, juice and zest
1 small pinch cayenne
3 tablespoons butter
1 handful frilly mustard
For the shrimp:
Season shrimp with red pepper flakes, salt and oil. Grill until about halfway cooked.
In a large sauté pan add the remaining ingredients with the exception of the butter and the mustard greens.
Bring the mixture up to a simmer and whisk in the butter.
Add the shrimp and the mustard greens.
Cook briefly until the mustard greens are slightly wilted. Adjust seasoning to taste.
To plate, divide the peanuts with some of their broth between 4 bowls. On top of the peanuts divide the shrimp with their goodies and serve.