Until a few weeks ago, I’d never had a boiled peanut.
The prevalence of this Southern salty snack didn’t quite make its way to my corner of the Ozarks, but Ted Prater, the chef behind Banger’s Sausage House & Beer Garden, grew up eating them in Tennessee.
At his restaurant on Rainey Street, Prater serves them in a glass jar along with the dark, briny broth in which they are boiled. I was instructed on how to suck the juice out of the shell, not unlike you’d do with a crawfish head, before popping the soft nut out of its case. The peanuts were a nice little snack to go along with the rest of Prater’s menu, which includes a seemingly infinite number of handcrafted sausages, condiments, pickles and sides like fried cheese curds and poutine.
Prater was happy to share the recipe if you want to try to make these little guys at your house. You’ll need raw or green peanuts, available most readily online on websites like wakefieldpeanutco.com or nuts.com. (Green peanuts, which are fresh out of the ground, moist and more perishable than other raw peanuts, are only available during the harvest season in the fall.)
Don’t feel like making them at home? Charleston authors (and fervent boiled peanut fans) Matt and Ted Lee run a website called boiledpeanuts.com, where you can buy 5 pounds of already boiled peanuts for $32.50, as well as DIY kits and T-shirts that say “I brake for boiled peanuts.”
You’ll notice that boiled peanuts need to be simmered for a long time to become soft, sometimes as long as eight or nine hours. The cooking time will vary greatly depending on how fresh the raw peanuts are. Like dried beans, the older they are, the longer it takes to cook them, and when they are finished cooking, the peanuts will have a similar texture to a cooked dry bean.
2 1/2 lbs. raw peanuts in shell
1/2 cup kosher salt
2 Tbsp. chili powder
1 Tbsp. smoked paprika
1 Tbsp. granulated garlic
1 Tbsp. onion powder
1 Tbsp. chipotle powder
Combine all ingredients in a large pot and cover well with water. Bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer. Allow to cook on low heat for 4-8 hours, adding additional water every so often. (You can also cook them in a slow cooker if you prefer.)
Cook until shells are soft and flavorful. Spoon peanuts and liquid into bowls, and top with salt if desired. Serve hot.
You can cook them up to a week ahead of time. Cool and store in a large container with lid. Reheat on stove with juices. Bring to a boil, and simmer until hot.
— Ted Prater, executive chef of Banger’s Sausage House & Beer Garden