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Sunday, Nov 23, 2014
South Shore News

Southern boiled peanuts spark debate, memories


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Early this month I got an email from a friend who was trying to indulge her friend’s pregnancy craving for boiled peanuts. She asked where she could find some or if I had a recipe?

Hot boiled peanuts are, well, hot boiled peanuts. They are boiled in salty water for hours so the salt seeps through the shells. The peanuts end up softened to the consistency of beans and salty enough to brine your Christmas turkey.

Typically they’re sold at roadside stands with hand-lettered signs and ladled into Styrofoam cups or Ziploc bags.

Not everyone, including moi, appreciates this local delicacy’s distinctive grassy flavor or the clammy wetness on your fingers as you pick them apart. They’re sloppy as heck, and there’s no way to down them daintily. Sorry, but it’s true.

My dislike for hot boiled peanuts began when I lived in Jacksonville. A large, old stainless-steel G.I. soup pot sat visible in my neighbor’s backyard. If our windows were open, we didn’t have to step outside to know when peanut-boiling Bob was preparing a large batch to sell roadside. I’ve heard it described as a “sweet-potato-gone-sour” odor.

That aside, I had peanut stands to find.

I reached out to my Facebook friends.

The floodgates opened. Out of almost two dozen responses here are some of my favorites:

“The produce stand at Highway 301 and Bloomingdale usually has them.” – Lisa Kennedy

“Kim’s Produce stand in Apollo Beach. They make them right there so you get them while they’re hot!”– Patti Conley.

“I’m not pregnant, but I love boiled peanuts... get them on Highway 60 E. as you drive towards Dover. – Felix Martinez.

“I think I’ve seen them at Publix.” – Amy Kowalski

“I’ve got a good cajun boiled peanut recipe, but I’m not sure how the spices will set with a pregnant lady!” – Chip Barker

Clearly, I have boiled-peanut savvy Facebook friends.

It wasn’t a craving for soggy legumes that spawned me to dig even further.

While I was in Riverview last week, I pulled into Wolfe’s Produce Market, 6005 U.S. 301 S., for a quick course in boiled peanutology.

I spoke with Jeff Wolfe and his mom, Laurie. To serve their peanut-loving customers they boil close to 50 pounds of Cajun and regular peanuts per day, year-round in three huge pots they keep cooking all the time. Their dried peanuts simmer for up to 11 hours.

And I learned something. One boiled peanut sample leads to another. And another. And another. These things are addicting as all get-out, especially the Cajun ones.

Good grief, am I becoming Southernized?

Lynn Kessel is a freelance food columnist and blogger. For more of her recipes, visit southshore.tbo.com and enter the search words Lynn Kessel or look for her blog at www.lynnkessel.blogspot.com.

CHIP’S CAJUN BOILED PEANUTS

1 large bag raw peanuts, in shells (Publix has them 3-lb. bags.)

1/2 cup salt

1/4 cup black pepper

2 tablespoons Old Bay Seasoning

1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning

1 tablespoon garlic powder

1 12-ounce jar pickled jalapenos

1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes with juice

2 tablespoons hot sauce

Water to fill slow cooker

Fill slow cooker 1/2 way with water, add all ingredients except peanuts. Stir to combine. Add peanuts. Add more water until peanuts are completely covered. Stir to combine. Cover and cook on low heat until peanuts are soft, about 24 hours.

Note: Water will evaporate and be absorbed by the peanuts so add more water as needed to keep the peanuts covered.

Source: Chip Barker, Apollo Beach

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