Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Limey Peanuts

This recipe was inspired by a recent plane trip. A nice flight attendant gave me a slice of lime to go with my club soda [I'd never thought to ask] and I opted for peanuts over pretzels. I squeezed my lime and licked my fingers and popped a couple peanuts in my mouth. [A little uncouth, I know, but my other hand was holding my knitting and it was too hazardous to pull the little napkin from underneath my half-full can, one-handed, you see?] I liked the tangy, salty, peanutty combination very much. I decided to recreate it at home.

Without resorting to powdered citric acid, however, it's not easy to get a lot of bright lime flavor onto a peanut without also making it damp or slimy. I discovered two tricks for this. One is to use something even slimier [egg white] and bake it on. The other is that the papery peanut skins actually absorb the juice, and the smattering of skin-on nuts in my jar were so, so tasty that I'm going to advocate buying the spanish-style peanuts for this endeavor. You'll be glad you did.

Recipe: Spanish-Style Limey Peanuts
I served these at a little fiesta where a bit of chili powder seemed appropriate, but it's entirely optional. Black pepper would be a tasty alternative, but they don't need to have any heat at all. I went with a low-salt version then added a bit more to taste, but they're not always easy to find.

1 egg white
2 limes, juice and zest [grated peel]
1 lb. roasted Spanish-style peanuts [less salt of possible]
salt to taste
1/2 teaspoon chili powder [optional]

Preheat oven [or toaster oven] to 250F. Line a baking pan with aluminum foil. In a large bowl, whisk together egg white, lime juice, and zest. [The liquid will turn opaque pretty quickly.] Add peanuts to the bowl and toss the mixture with your hands or a large spoon until everything is evenly coated. Spread in a single layer on the baking sheet, sprinkle with salt and chili powder or pepper [optional], and bake, stirring every 20 minutes, for 1 hour or until peanuts are dry. [Partway through they will be very pale and chewy. It's okay.]

Allow to cool completely before storing in an airtight container. 

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