chesapeake bay party nuts

We always tell guests for one of our home dinners not to bring anything, but often they do anyway, usually wine that we are later stuck drinking ourselves (making us nose-holding wine snobs on occasion). Doug and Katy broke the mold with these weirdly processed pecans at one of our lasagna dinners. We tried them right away that night and were addicted. We begged for the recipe, and after a few weeks, it materialized. Ani went right into action and did a trial batch. Which disappeared immediately, so a second batch had to follow quickly.

For some reason bob has a slight probably unwarranted prejudice against pecans, maybe because they are often overdosed with some kind of sweetener in recipe applications. So that first night when he had heard the gift nuts were pecans, he was immediately skeptical but nevertheless polite. How wrong our preconceptions can be! Maybe these might even be classified as "good for us"—after all walnuts are one of the short listed miracle foods, and pecans look a lot like them.

A quick web search turned up many postings of essentially the same recipe, but no story of where the recipe came from or what it has to do with the Chesapeake Bay. But this won't interfere with the satisfaction we can all experience with an occasional overindulgence in this snack food.

This recipe calls for garlic powder. We use fresh garlic every day, so rarely do we pull out our little spice jar of garlic powder which by now is probably nearly 3 decades old (not quite old enough to resort to carbon dating techniques). It still packs a punch apparently, despite what the food magazines say about renewing your spices regularly. And if we had thrown it out, we probably would have forgotten to replace it, and ... no party nuts today! Certainly we would have gotten our butts out to a supermarket pretty soon though. Make sure you've got this on hand yourself.

ingredients

3 1/2 T butter
4 t Old Bay seasoning
4 T Worcestershire sauce
1 t garlic powder
1 t hot sauce (Texas Pete or equivalent)
4 c pecans

instructions

  1. Check your spice shelf for garlic powder. Old Bay seasoning and Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce are not a sure bet either. Stock up. Then continue.
  2. Melt the butter, add all the seasonings and mix together in a bowl.
  3. Toss the pecans into the mix and coat evenly.
  4. Place in a single layer on aluminum foil lined cookie sheet(s).
  5. Bake at 300 F for 30 minutes, stirring twice (say, at 10 minutes and 20 minutes).
  6. Cool and store in an airtight container.

notes

  1. Katy says: There may be a variation in the absorption of the sauce due to age or dryness of the pecans. Extra sauce on the aluminum foil tends to burn and give the pecans a different (not as good!) taste. I use a slotted spoon to transfer the pecans to the cookie sheets rather than pouring the mixture. If there is liquid remaining in the bowl, more pecans can be added. Excess liquid on the foil/cookie sheet can be removed with a paper towel before baking.
  2. Southern Living Magazine, August 2003: original? recipe.
  3. If you don't want to bankrupt yourselves buying pecans, look for a Trader Joe's near you or order them on-line in bulk. They seem to be significantly higher priced in the local supermarkets compared to Joe's reasonable buy.
  4. Having addicted our neighbors to this treat, we got a little more of the story. "Old Bay Seasoning" refers to the "Old Bay Line" on the Chesapeake Bay (in Delaware on the east coast), which is a big shellfish producing and eating region. Now owned by the spice monster corporation McCormick and found in just about every supermarket and fish store in America, Old Bay Seasoning was invented by a German immigrant, and the locals apparently have been very inventive ever since figuring out new applications for it and its variations. Unfortunately with these bursts of imagination that then permeate the local culture, no one thinks to document the history of its creation, so there is no trace of the history of these party nuts on the internet. But the surprising thing is that there is no mention of this recipe on the official Old Bay recipe website. We had a container of Old Bay in the cupboard for years, until now. Since we became addicts that one is history and we're on the second purchase in a month (okay, one we left at my mom's where ani did up a batch on the road). An amazing business opportunity is being overlooked by those airhead capitalists in charge. But look at the mess they got us into with the global financial meltdown of 2008! What can you expect?
  5. Dear Old Bay,
    We just discovered the crack cocaine of the snack world: Chesapeake Bay Party Nuts! The recipe is all over the internet but NOT on your own website! Why? You are missing out on many extra sales of your product due to this one recipe alone not being discovered by people like us who were accidentally gifted a batch and became instant addicts.
    Waiting for an answer...
  6. Illustrations available.
chspkbyptynts.htm: 26-feb-2009 [what, ME cook? 1984 dr bob enterprises]