This is the time of the year when my thoughts turn to the holiday table. I start day-dreaming about spiced snacks, sweets, and dressings. Gravy, mashed sweet potato casseroles…you get my drift. Of course, when I start like this, and test and practice, then by the time the actual meal comes around I am a little burned out on the whole enterprise. I’m heading that inclination off at the pass this year. I’ve ordered a Greenberg Smoked Turkey from Tyler, Texas which will arrive fully cooked on my doorstep the day before Christmas. There will be no bird catastrophes at my home this year. I can concentrate on my favorite things, pies and sides, and little spicy treats such as these pecans.
I have had a Greenberg fetish ever since our friend Beall gave us one as a gift a decade ago. Picture opening the front door to find a giant box with a big blackened smoked turkey inside. It is a joy. It is way better than finding a baby on the doorstep. And it doesn’t matter where you go, a turkey can follow you like a shadow. Occasionally I will even have one of them shipped to a vacation spot, if we are celebrating the holiday at a home-away-from-home. My husband likes them so much for leftover turkey sandwiches that I would have trouble talking him into “letting” me cook a turkey for Thanksgiving.
These pecans are salty, spicy and sweet. However, the final cooked pecans are less spicy than you might imagine, given the ingredient list. Next time, I will probably add just a tad more sugar and a little more cayenne, just to make them even more troublesome and addictive. You will pop one of these pecans in your mouth every time you walk by. But I also think they would be delicious in a salad or on some little canape…like apple slices with a dollop of goat cheese and these little guys chopped up on top.
[Use only the egg WHITE...the photo demonstrates how I separate my whites from the yolks, but it might be confusing. Do NOT put the yolk into the mix.]
1 teaspoon Chinese Five Spice Powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon cayenne powder
¼ cup brown sugar
1 egg white (white only)
2-½ cups pecan halves
1 teaspoon fleur de sel or Kosher salt
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.
In a small bowl, combine the spices. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg white until it is frothy and bubbly. Add the spices to the egg and whisk to combine.
Add the pecans to the spice and egg mixture and toss the pecans until they are evenly coated.
Pour the pecans onto a parchment covered rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes. Using a spatula, turn the pecans and stir them around a bit so they will cook evenly. Continue to cook for an additional 20 minutes. Remove the pecans from the oven and stir them around a bit so they aren’t stuck to the paper. Sprinkle the salt evenly around the pecans and allow the pecans to cool on the baking sheet for at least 30 minutes. Store in an airtight bag for up to a week.
Chili powder is the blend you use to make chili, which includes powdered chiles and other spices. It is the most commonly found chile substance in the spice aisle. Once you get a little more crazy about chiles and chili, you will find that there are a million powdered “chilEs” to be had. But “chili” powders are proprietary blends of various things. For instance, Bolner’s Chili powder is made primarily from powdered Ancho chiles as well as several other spices. “ChilE” powders should just contain the powdered form on the one type of chilE in question. When in question, read the label. Here, I used my Bolner’s chili powder…that is chili with an “I.” Chili is stew. Chile is a pepper.
Chinese Five Spice Blend is, generally speaking, a blend of star anise, cloves, cinnamon, Sichuan peppers, and ground fennel. The blends can vary, and some contain salt and other ingredients, as well. It is a very distinctive blend. If you have never played with it before, I’d be curious to know your reaction to it. It definitely adds a savory, sweet, and unexpected depth compared to your typical spiced pecan recipes.