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Thanksgiving Nibbles

©2009 Jerry Redfern

I’m getting a head start, but I fear I made these pecans a bit too early. They won’t last until Thursday. I do believe these are the liveliest pecans I’ve ever tasted, and I can’t keep them out of my mouth or my husband’s claws.

I came across the recipe for Candied Chile Pecans a week or so ago while paging through cookbooks in search of Thanksgiving inspiration. Somehow, the holiday seems a perfect fit for Utah’s little Buddhist restaurant, known as Hell’s Backbone Grill, and the resultant cookbook, With a Measure of Grace. The publisher sent me a review copy last year, but I hadn’t cooked much from it during the summer months we’ve spent at home. For some reason, with winter on the horizon, I feel more inclined toward Western mountain fare (which is getting a good share of attention these days). Plus, I’m endlessly intrigued by this speck on the (mostly) Mormon map that welcomes each summer a contingent of Tibetan monks from the Drepung Loseling Monastery.

©2009 Jerry Redfern

But let’s get back to this issue of pecans, before they’re gone. The recipe is ridiculously simple, requiring only six ingredients: 1/4 cup vegetable oil, 3 tablespoons Kahlua or espresso, 1 tablespoon Chimayo chile powder (I didn’t have any on hand, so I used powdered Assam chile), 2 tablespoons sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 2 cups pecan halves. Mix the ingredients and spread the pecans on a greased baking sheet. Bake 10 minutes at 400 degrees, stir, then bake a bit longer.

The combination of chile and coffee gives these nuts an incredibly rich, smoky, blackened flavor that pairs perfectly with the caramelized sugar. I dare you make these now—and keep them until the guests arrive on Thursday.

©2009 Jerry Redfern

Just a few samples of the myriad chiles we keep around. Looks like I was remiss in securing the cap on the Spanish paprika jar. I hate that when Jerry takes a beautiful photo but I’m fixated on the little flaws in my kitchen!

7 replies on “Thanksgiving Nibbles”

Cristie, Elizeth: The remaining pecans were hidden in a canister on our shelf for a couple of weeks. Jerry discovered them the other day. Gone within hours.

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