Introduction: Boiled Peanuts
Boiled Peanuts are one of the most delicious simplest snacks I've ever had. Who knew that just by boiling a peanut, one could delight so many tummies.
When I was traveling in the South this summer for my residency at the Elsewhere Museum, another artist at the museum, Devin, turned me on to this roadside snack called Boiled Peanuts. Upon staring at them, they looked gross - they were a weird color peanut, floating in some murky dark liquid. She said "whatever, just try it."
This was the most delicious thing, and I never would have expected it.
I was so intrigued, that I started checking out some the history around this snack, and it has been a staple in Southern communities for a long time! I've been on the West Coast my whole life, plagued by tacos and In-N-Out Burgers, never knowing about this delight. Note to self: travel and eat more....
Step 1: Ingredients
Step 2: Salt to Water Ratio
What the experts said varied, but I ended up going with a ratio of 3 Tbs of salt for every 5 quarts of water - and maybe adding a little bit more as it cooks.
This snack is designed to sit in this water after cooking is complete, so it will get some of it's salt from remaining in the brine.
Step 3: Soak!
The raw peanuts are really dirty. After rinsing them a few times, it's a good idea to let them soak in a warm bath for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
I was impressed how much silt came off of them. (Warning: When I made these for a second time, I was a little lax on soak time - and they came out kind of gritty. YUCK.)
Step 4: Bring Water to a Boil.
In a big 15 quart stock pot, I brought about 10 quarts of water and the salt to a boil - it took a while to really get ripping, so maybe boil the water as the peanuts soak.
Step 5: Add Peanuts and Cover.
Add the peanuts to the salt water, and try and maintain a rolling boil. Keep a wooden spoon near by, and stir every 20 minutes. Keep covered when not stirring.
Do NOT Simmer - you want this guy to be bubbling throughout the entire cook time. Depending on your range, you'll have to figure out what setting to cook these at, but the flames were about medium-high here in our test kitchen.
Step 6: Are They Done Yet?
When they are done, the husks are soft and the peanuts inside are not crunchy at all. It should have the texture similar to a refried bean :)
It should take anywhere between 3 and 4 hours to get them this mushy and perfectly brined.
Step 7: Serve Warm
When they are cool enough to scoop with a slatted spoon, serve in small bowls, and maybe offer a second bowl for shells.
I knew these would go fast, but I wasn't expecting people around the office to be as voracious as they were - mikeasaurus proclaimed "this is my new favorite thing", JON-A-TRON and jessyratfink - the actual southerners I work with were stoked, and others never knew that a peanut could be cooked and served in this fashion. My roommate asked "are you sure this isn't crack?"