The Food staff was just treated to an unexpected taste delight a few minutes ago when The Times' Health section editor, Tami Dennis, let us sample the boiled peanuts she made last night. It all started when Deputy Food Editor Susan LaTempa brought Tami back some green (i.e., uncooked) peanuts she found at the City Hall farmers market yesterday afternoon, at one of the stands selling Thai greens. Tami's from southeast Georgia, so Susan thought she might like to have her way with the peanuts.
Tami did indeed. She put about a pound of them in a big pot, added a half a cup of salt and a lot of water, boiled them (covered) for about two and a half hours, then let them sit in the water for another half an hour. Southerners say they're an "acquired taste," at least according to a "What's Cooking America" link Tami sent us, which includes history, a recipe and lore (like they're pronounced "bald" peanuts in the South). But if that's the case, we Food staffers acquired it immediately. They're fantastic! They have wonderful, gentle peanut flavor and a texture like a cooked garbanzo bean. Watch out! They squirt when you open them, and the shells are squishy.
Tami says it's hard to predict how long they'll need to boil; it depends on the size of the peanuts and how fresh they are. Just keep tasting them, she counsels, till you're happy with them.
-- Leslie Brenner
Photo by Leslie Brenner