Monday, September 30, 2013

Eating Goober Peas

Peas! Peas! Peas! Peas! Eating goober peas!
Goodness how delicious, eating goober peas!.

From a popular Civil War song
We left the South about 11 years, and while we love being up north, there are some things that we miss. Naturally, our families, sunshine all year, and lower taxes top the list. However, boiled peanuts are also pretty high up there for me, too.

Down south, you can find big advertisement signs (my favorites being the ones that say "Boiled P-nuts") all over the place -- gas stations, truck stops, roadside stands... In certain places, even grocery stores will have big pots of them simmering. Usually, you get a choice of peanuts. There is the tried and true version boiled in simple saltwater. There is also Cajun-style for the bolder palate. Additionally, you can choose a small or large styrofoam container of nuts. I always go for large. And usually buy one container of each kind because I can't see limiting myself.

When most people think of peanuts, something crunchy comes to mind. Boiled peanuts, though, couldn't be more different. Texture-wise, they are much more like cooked beans, so it seems understandable that most people either love them or hate them. I'm most decidedly a lover. There is something irresistible about cracking the shell with your teeth and then sucking out the salty brine before nibbling the delectably creamy peanuts inside. The spicy, lip-numbing Cajun-style peanuts are even better.

To make boiled peanuts, you need green peanuts. I've heard you can use the raw peanuts, too, but they take a lot longer to cook (like 24 hours). I don't know about that because I've never tried. Actually, green peanuts are also raw, but they differ from "raw peanuts" in that they are fresh from the field. "Raw peanuts" are dehydrated. Green peanuts are not. In the South, I think I remember seeing them in stores during the summertime, but I've never seen them up here in the North. At least not until this past Friday when I scored big time at a local Korean grocer's.

Green peanuts

If you want to try making your own boiled peanuts, here's a basic recipe:
  1. Wash the peanuts in their shells to make sure there isn't any dirt on them. Rinse until the water coming off of them is clear.
  2. Put your peanuts in a crockpot. Fill the pot about 1/2 to 2/3 full, leaving plenty of room for water.
  3. Add water to fill the pot. 
  4. Add about 1 Tbsp for every pint of water you add. (The water should be about as salty as the ocean.)
  5. Cook the peanuts on high until they are tender inside and have a consistency that you like.  
  6. At this point, you can turn the crockpot to warm and snack on them all day. Or you can take the nuts out of the pot and put them in the fridge. However, the longer you let them soak, the more flavorful they will be.
Altogether, the cooking time is probably around 6-15 hours depending on how tender you want the nuts. (Around 12 hours is how I like them.) But they are so worth it! Especially since the crockpot does all the work for you.

Ready to cook. When they're done, the peanuts
start to fill up with brine and begin to sink down
into the water.

If you want Cajun peanuts, add some crab boil seasoning, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, and cajun seasoning to the pot along with the salt. Some people add jalapenos, too. If your Cajun seasoning contains salt, though, adjust the amount of salt accordingly.
Ready for shelling!


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