I am new to the North American style of cooking, and I won’t try to deny that I love it. The flavours, the textures, the serving sizes… As a greedy vegan foodie, I have experienced some of the best meals of my life in a little dining room in the Midwestern United States.
On a road trip down to New Orleans with my lovely in laws late last year, I finally got to try the boiled peanuts my hubby Sam had so often drooled to me about. I wasn’t expecting much – peanuts were never my “nut” of choice – which meant that I got to have my mind blown. Boiled peanuts are now one of my favourite salty snacks, and I’m happy to say that they also have a nice list of health benefits. Especially when compared to traditional roasted peanuts.
Boiled peanuts are significantly higher in flavonoids and polyphenols than roasted peanuts, and they even contain more of these amazing antioxidants than raw peanuts do. Antioxidants are known to protect our cells against free radical damage, reducing the risk of many chronic illnesses. Healthy and delicious? Yes please.
Introducing other people to new foods has always been a pleasure of mine and yesterday on our way to see some sights in Ohio we passed a gas station selling, you guessed it, fresh boiled peanuts. Sam and I got to put them in front of one of my best friends – Elka – and see her reaction. It was awesome. She loved them!
Elka described them as soft salty beans, and said that eating them was fun. She particularly enjoyed the activity of cracking them open “to get to the goodness”. It’s kind of a messy snack, but aren’t all the fun things kind of messy?!
So when you’re ready to give these tasty little morsels a go, find some raw peanuts in shells and try my recipe below. Aussies don’t fret, they can be ordered online. A quick google will give quite a few results but here is one supplier if you don’t feel like shopping around. These are really simple to make, they just take time. Here goes!
Cajun Boiled Peanuts Recipe
1 kilo (2.2 pounds) of raw peanuts in shells
1/2 cup of sea salt
Plenty of water
Cajun Seasoning (optional but delicious)
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon chilli flakes
I am told that the best boiled peanuts are made from raw, or “green” peanuts which have been freshly harvested. These are only available in certain places at certain times of year though, and if they are not available what you want are dried (not roasted) raw peanuts. If using dried raw peanuts rinse them thoroughly and put them in a large bowl. Cover them with water and a plate (to keep them submerged) and let them soak overnight.
Once the peanuts have soaked for at least 8 hours, strain them and tip them into a big soup pot. Fill up the pot with enough water to cover them and make them float, put the heat on high, and add the salt and cajun seasoning.
Wait until they are really boiling and turn down the heat a little. You want to keep them boiling, but not boiling over. Now comes the tricky part… Waiting. These bad boys need to boil for anywhere from 5-12 hours (only an hour if using the elusive green peanuts!) and they are going to taunt you with amazing smells the whole time. Keep an eye on them (never leave the stove unattended), top up the water whenever necessary, and after a few hours crack one open and try it. You want them to be really soft so don’t worry if they are taking a long time. Avoid adjusting the seasoning while they are cooking.
When the peanuts begin to sink to the bottom of the pot you will know that they have absorbed the liquid. If they are soft turn off the heat, if not keep them boiling a while longer.
They won’t be very salty at this stage, so leave them to soak in the hot liquid for as long as possible to absorb the flavours. I like to let them cool down and put them into some tupperware in the fridge with the liquid. I then heat them up in the liquid, drain and serve each time we want to eat them, which makes the most of their flavourful liquid. They don’t last long in our house, but they can safely sit in the fridge for up to ten days or so. To keep them longer they can be frozen.
So there it is, a small taste of the Southern USA. Do you love boiled peanuts? Hate them? Have I convinced you to try them? At the very least I hope to have aroused your curiosity. Let me know what you think!