My Cajun family had a pecan orchard, and harvest time was always special. We would sit around the kitchen table for hours, shelling the nuts. That got tedious after a while but none of us was excused from the shelling process, even when it became a chore.
It would have seemed disloyal to not be part of attending to the pecans from the family farm, as my Great-Uncle Adolphe almost thought of the trees as his children. He studied pecans for years, planting numerous varieties and taking great pride in them--especially his favorite "paper shell" type, a slim shaped pecan that was 4-inches long, and especially flavorful.
- 8 tablespoons butter (1 stick)
- 8 cups pecan halves
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Place a heavy skillet over medium-high heat and melt the butter.
- When butter is melted, but before it starts to brown, add the pecans and toss to coat nuts evenly with the butter.
- Combine the remaining ingredients and sprinkle over the buttered nuts. Again, toss to coat nuts evenly with the spices. Turn the heat down to medium, and continue to cook for 10 minutes, stirring often.
- When cool, store pecans in a zip-style bag or another type of airtight container. If you still have pecans after a few days, you're not Cajun. Nevertheless, they may be frozen in a zip-style bag or airtight container.
These are great as hostess gifts, placed in an attractive jar.
BONUS TIP: Stale pecans may be "freshened" by baking them for a few minutes on a baking sheet in a 200°F oven. Dad discovered this one day when some guests dropped in and he didn't have anything to serve with drinks, except a stale can of nuts. A few minutes in the oven and they were good as new. He did have to explain, however, why the nuts were hot! Using his vivid imagination, he simply stated that he always served the nuts hot.
BONUS TIP: To make shelling pecans less of a chore, pour boiling water over them, and allow to set for about 10 minutes before shelling. This makes them less brittle and makes it easier to remove the nuts in halves rather than in broken pieces.
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