For as long as the Food Show has been around, there has sometimes been a “thing” that grabs the attention of callers and it continues for far longer than what seems reasonable. Who knows what will capture the attention of people enthralled with anything, but in this case food?
A few weeks ago a woman named Jane called with a simple question: where to get boiled peanuts. While I was able to answer the question (On the northshore on Hwy 59 just north of the S-curve under some trees, sold by the Washington Parish watermelon man.), I did give my unsolicited opinion of the item requested, dismissing boiled peanuts as perhaps unworthy of the quest.
To put it bluntly, I called them gross.
This set off a flurry of calls about peanuts in general, from affirmation of both opinions of boiled peanuts, to regular peanuts consumed from floating inside a Coke, Was this to save time? Space? I was confused by all of these unusual ways to eat peanuts. Roasted, salted, popped in the mouth. Simplest is best, yes?
It took me about two weeks to investigate these twists on basic peanut consumption. We also learned that boiled peanuts are popular enough that it is not necessary to wait for the Washington Parish watermelon man to set up shop under the trees on Hwy 59. I was informed that boiled peanuts come canned, in two varieties yet, from a company with the cute name Peanut Patch. Regular and Cajun. These cans were to be found at Dollar General, but I also discovered them at Artigue’s in Abita Springs when I went to get my Coca-Cola for the peanuts-in-the-Coke experiment. Callers lined up to tell me that regular grocery stores had them too, as our own Nicole Dorignac affirmed.
The very discussion of Cajun boiled peanuts triggered a memory of a Cajun boiled peanut hummus I had once at the Ritz Carlton Reynolds Plantation near Augusta , Georgia. We tried to call them on the show but they were mystified by the request.
After the proper explanations to the marketing department, we did speak to the Chef Jordan Whitney from the lakeside restaurant on the property, Gaby’s by the Lake (Oconee.) I was surprised to learn that the hummus had as much black-eyed peas as boiled peanuts. And a few other unexpected ingredients. The recipe is below, and if you make it, beware of adding extra spice to Cajun Peanut Patch peanuts.
All this talk about boiled peanuts made me determined to try them again. I had some once but the texture was off putting. Jane, the caller who started this whole exploration, piqued my interest with her enthusiasm. I must have been wrong with my earlier snap judgement. And indeed I was.
I cracked the top to the Peanut Patch can of Cajun style.
As she promised, I would have to get my hands messy cracking into the softened shell. I can’t say that the rewards were great, but I did like these Cajun boiled peanuts. They were indeed simply a softer version of a roasted peanut. The Cajun spices were assertive enough to lose the taste of peanut, but it was a nice little snack.
In have-to-clean-hands-after-messy-snack-world I definitely prefer Spicy Nacho Doritos or, dare I say it? Cheetos, but this was a fun discovery, I will never sneer at boiled peanuts again, though I remain mystified by their necessity. But to be fair, how necessary are Cheetos?
The practice started in the Civil War, when soldiers boiled peanuts in salt to extend their shelf life, though this seems counterintuitive, and certainly unnecessary in 2021. But snack foods aren’t about necessity anyway, are they?
Boiled peanuts definitely made more sense to me than the peanuts in a Coke. Wetting peanuts ruins one of their most desirable qualities, to me , anyway. The crunch and the salt. And the sweetness of the Coke gets tainted. So why do it? Are you that lazy, I wondered?
Not lazy at all, as it turns out. This practice was also born of necessity, and traced back to the 1920s, when working people had dirty hands and were unable to wash them, or were operating cars or equipment requiring one hand at all times, leaving only one for the snack.
The peanut discussion has concluded, and I’ll stick to the regular way of consuming this quintessentially southern snack, if you want to go gourmet, follow the recipe from the Ritz Carlton right here.
1 ½ Pound Blanched/Shelled Peanuts
½ Pound Cooked Black Eyed Peas
1 Cup BBQ Spice
1 Gallon Water
½ Cup Tahini
¼ Cup Lemon Juice
½ Cup Roasted Garlic and Oil
Salt and Pepper As needed
1. Boil peanuts in water with BBQ spice.
2. Once peanuts are soft, add blacked eye peas and cook for 30 minutes.
3. Cool down to room temperature.
4. Save the liquid from peanuts to use in making the hummus.
5. Mix all other ingredients together with salt and pepper.
6. In food processor blend together with some the peanut liquid to get desired
7. Season after all has been blended.
8. Enjoy with tortilla chips or pita.
Makes 2 quarts