Peanuts great for football

Published 2:32 am Wednesday, September 9, 2009

By Staff
Lisa Tindell
Cook’s Corner
For many people, football just isn’t the same without peanuts.
During most any football game in the South you’ll find piles of peanut shells in the stadium after the fans have cleared the area. Whether boiled or roasted (my daddy called them “parched”) peanuts just make any game better, even if your team loses.
It still amazes me to find someone who has never had boiled peanuts. Usually, those people who haven’t had this wonderful treat are from somewhere way north of Birmingham. One other thing that gets me is that a lot of people under the age of 30 probably have never boiled a peanut on their own. Too many times these young folks get their boiled peanuts at the local convenience store or the grocery store.
If you are among those who don’t know what a boiled peanut is or you get yours out of the can (or from your mama’s freezer), I’m taking this opportunity to pass along tips and recipes for creating your own boiled peanuts.
Green peanuts are in season and are pretty plentiful this year. My suggestion is to start off with about five pounds just as a beginner’s batch.
First thing you’ll want to do is get a big pot. When I say big, I mean big. That four-quart pot you make chili in, is not going to be big enough. Get a stockpot or your grandma’s canning pot to tackle this job. You need a pot big enough to hold all of the peanuts covered in water. You’ll see what I mean when you begin this job.
Usually, salt is all you need to make the peanuts a wonderful addition to any evening. I’ve used regular table salt for the job many times, but it seems I can never get the salt-to-peanut ratio just right using it. A good peanut-boiler once gave me the tip to use the same kind of salt you use when freezing ice cream. (Something young folks still may not know about.) Pickling salt can also be used, but ice cream salt is better.
This first recipe isn’t really a recipe at all — it’s more like a method.
Basic Boiled Peanuts
5 lbs. green peanuts, washed and cleaned
1/2 cup ice cream salt
Place peanuts in large pot with enough water to cover by about 2 inches. Add salt and stir. Bring water to a boil. Boil peanuts for about 1 hour and check for tenderness. Peanuts will not be salty to taste at this point. When peanuts are at the desired tenderness, remove from heat. Allow peanuts to cool in water. Peanuts will absorb salt during the cooling process. Taste test peanuts occasionally as they cool. When peanuts have reached the desired saltiness, drain water and enjoy.
This next recipe is more of a recipe. Any kind of boiled peanut uses the same basic method. Cover with water and boil until tender. No matter what you add to the water and peanuts, you won’t get the flavor into the peanut until it begins to cool.
Cajun Peanuts
5 pounds raw peanuts, in shells
3/4 cup salt
1 1/4 cups dill pickle slices, with brine
5 small jalapeno peppers, sliced
5 tablespoons dry crab boil (such as Zatarain’s® Crab and Shrimp Boil)
Place peanuts, salt, pickles with brine, jalapenos, and crab boil in a large pot. Pour in water to cover the peanuts; stir to combine. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, and cook until soft, at least 4 hours, adding water as needed to keep peanuts covered. Scoop peanuts out of the pot with a slotted spoon and serve hot.
One final tip on cooking peanuts may come as a little bit of a surprise. I had a good friend to pass this tip along to me a couple of years ago and it actually works quite well. If you only want to cook a pound or so of boiled peanuts, the slow cooker may be a good choice. Measure out enough peanuts to fill the slow cooker about three-quarters full. Remember, you’ll need enough room to cover them with water (but not as much as using a regular pot). The ratio of salt to peanuts is going to be approximately one-quarter cup rock salt for every two pounds of peanuts. Cook peanuts on high setting of slow cooker for eight hours, or overnight. You’ll know the peanuts are done when they float. Check for tenderness and saltiness as you would for basic method cooking.
I hope that you’ll try some boiled peanuts at your house.
Enjoy these recipes and happy cooking!