The first time I ever tried boiled (baw-led) peanuts was in Georgia. My lady knew about this real nice spot called Fred’s Famous Peanuts. It was just a little old country shop that you’d miss if you didn’t know it was there. I could smell the smoke and that distinct boiled peanut smell as soon as we got out of the car. They were the self-proclaimed best peanuts in the world and after tasting them, I can’t disagree. Fell in love immediately.
Now, everyone eats peanuts… but up North, we eat them dry roasted with salt at a ball game or in a bar with beer. We throw the shells on the ground and it’s considered a real American pastime. That’s what peanuts have always been to me but these things… they were something else. Because they were boiled and had liquid in them, they weren’t dried out. The roasted peanuts we’re used to shrivel up a bit but these boiled peanuts were big because they just swelled with liquid.
The boiled peanuts were really meaty. Not steak meaty necessarily, but that’s the best way I can think of to describe it. They had body to them. They kept their form but they were soft. The texture was unique and the thing that impressed me was how full of flavor they were. It’s that low boil/all day simmer that does it. In that process, the nut just sucks up all that boiling liquid like a sponge. It’s going to taste like whatever you put in it.
At this spot they did a regular salt boil (or I think they called it a Georgia boil?) and a Cajun. Since they’re “famous,” I wanted to try the original. I probably ate the whole bag that day. I dig ‘em. I love them as much as Greek yogurt. I made them once before at this restaurant I was working at shortly after our visit to Georgia, but up until now I’d forgotten about them.
It’s September, we’re coming up on fall, and it’s gonna start getting cool, which I like. It’s gonna start smelling like fall, so we started early by making our kitchen smell like fall. We did a pumpkin spiced boiled peanut which turned out… my god. I liked the other ones but I like these best.
2 lb bag of raw peanuts
1 bottle pumpkin beer of choice
3 cups of water (to fill)
4 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp granulated garlic
½ tsp onion powder
2 tsp vanilla
Add all of your ingredients to a crock-pot and cook on high for 6-8 hours. You just want it to simmer but not rapidly boil, so it may depend on your crock-pot (no surprise ours is an old school model). When you’re done, cut it off, let it cool on the counter, and then throw it in the fridge and let it sit in the liquid for at least 24 hours. Then, snack away my friend. This would be great for football season.
As the heat releases from the nut, it draws in more of that flavorful liquid and pretty much self-marinates. They get better by the day. It’s like fall in a nice little peanut. How do you eat them? Once again my lady taught me how to eat them because here’s the thing: those shells are porous too and the cracks aren’t sealed tight, so that lovely, delicious juice is inside. So (keep your head out of the gutter on this one) when you grab a peanut, you’ve got to put it in your mouth and suck on it. You get that juice off the outside and then when you lightly crack it with your teeth, you get that nice burst of juice. It’s almost better than the nut itself. Then you can pull the shell out and eat the peanut itself. If I were more talented, I could probably pull the peanut out of the shell in my mouth, but I can’t so… that’s how you eat them.
Here’s some variations you could do – you could make them heartier by adding molasses (for a really deep and rich flavor) or you could put a little bit of Guinness in with the pumpkin (it’s strong so not a lot, but just a little to give it a layer of flavor). You could put a little citrus in it if you’d like or something fall-y like anise. Even rosemary would open up a new herbaceous flavor combo. The more you layer your flavors, the more it sparks the taste buds on your tongue. Bitter, sweet, salty, sour. Any time you put multiple flavors in your food, it just opens up those pores on your tongues and makes you taste new things.
I’m going to add a little of what I just talked about to the left over peanut liquid after I finish them (which won’t be long now). I’ll make a stronger brine to use with some turkey breasts for a few days and then I’ll boil it or roast it. And then I’ll – well, I’ll let you know when that happens.