Rosemary, olive oil and sea salt make pecans a big hit. Vanilla-honey and fresh nutmeg turn cashews into crack cocaine. But the real powerhouse of our most recent beer bust was an improvised recipe—stumbled upon while ransacking Alex's spice shelves—for spicy smoked peanuts. A touch of brown sugar, coarse salt, a kiss of cayenne, wallops of bright red Aleppo pepper and, crucially, smoked black pepper helped plenty of people brave the line for another bomber.
Smoked Beer Nuts
Makes 2 cups
2 cups raw, shelled peanuts
1/4 cup peanut oil (canola is OK)
2 tablespoons ground Aleppo pepper
1 tablespoon ground smoked black pepper
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1) Open your windows and turn on a fan. Put a wok or deep cast-iron skillet on high heat for several minutes before adding your raw peanuts and peanut oil. (You could also put your wok on an outdoor grill for extra-smokey summer fun-time.)2) Lower flame to medium heat and stir nuts vigorously every 30 seconds to cook evenly. Cook this way for about 5 minutes, or until peanuts show visible signs of browning.3) While stirring, add in the Aleppo and smoked black pepper. Hold off on the other spices and continue roasting for 3 to 4 more minutes. Try a peanut—it should be slightly cooked but still chewy (they will get crunchier once cooled).4) Remove nuts from heat and slide into a ceramic mixing bowl. Add the brown sugar, cayenne and salt. Spice-heads may want to toss in 1 to 2 teaspoons of their favorite hot sauce (any more will make your nuts damp and weird).5) Serve with cold beer.