Makes:1 about 1-1/2 cups |
Prep Time:5 minutes + 15 minutes soaking |
Cook Time:15 minutes
Never do I have friends over without serving them some kind of nut to nibble on. That way my guests have something to do with their hands, which also eases them into a drink, and the party is rolling. The nut can be as simple as purchased roasted almonds or ones dressed up with maple and soy. At Christmas, though, I’m always dreaming of the perfect pecan. So when a recipe for bourbon-soaked pecans from my friend Perre of the Runaway Spoon plunked into my email inbox, I had to try it. The technique is to brine the nuts then roast them, and it does what brining does for a lot of foods: shoots them right through with salty flavor. I substituted maple syrup for the brown sugar she uses, and while she recommends table salt for the brine, I used kosher salt (if you use table salt, which is more finely milled, cut the amount of salt slightly). And besides, I love the idea of being bourbon-soaked at this time of year.
2/3 cup water
3 tablespoons good bourbon
1/4 cup maple syrup (see note)
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
6 ounces pecan halves
In a 1-quart saucepan, stir together the water, bourbon, maple syrup and salt. Bring to a boil and stir until salt dissolves. Drop in the rosemary sprigs (break into pieces to fit in pan if necessary), take the pan off the heat and leave until liquid is just warm.
Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. When soaking liquid is warm, remove the rosemary sprigs and drop in the pecan halves, stir well and leave to soak for 15 minutes, stirring several times. Drain the pecans through a strainer and pick out any stray rosemary needles. Spread the pecans in a single layer on the baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes or until toasted and fragrant. Watch and smell carefully so they do not burn. Cool on the baking sheet.
note: use real maple syrup, not pancake syrup. Grade B maple syrup is particularly flavorful and often less expensive than grade A.