The Beauty in Boiled Peanuts
On the other hand, I have never lived north of the Mason-Dixon line. While I love to get out of the South, I would probably spontaneously combust if I tried to live anywhere else on earth. My Southern genes would likely attack themselves trying to recreate the hot, humid Hell I’ve always lived in.
I grew up eating all the usual Southern fried suspects – fried chicken; BBQ (vinegar base only – everything else is crap); shrimp and grits; fried okra; fluffy biscuits. I could go on and on and on.
Boiled peanuts have to be at the top of my list of things that make me feel Southern. Hot out of the pot, their salty goodness is next-to-impossible to top. When the hot water runs down my arms and I’m covered in wet peanut shells, I am always supremely happy. I cannot fathom anyone else feeling differently about something so decadent.
Only MTM cilantros boiled peanuts. In fact, one of the biggest arguments in our marriage occurred at a Charleston RiverDogs game over the issue of peanuts. He wanted roasted; I demanded boiled. A stalemate ensued as we purchased enough peanuts to feed our entire stadium section – mine boiled; his roasted.
What was worse, we tore into them at once, loudly proclaiming with mouths-full-of-peanuts why one selection was superior to the other. That MTM eats his roasted peanuts SHELLS AND ALL only added to the dramatic impact of the escalating carnage. I mean, I had never in my whole Southern life seen another human being eat a peanut shell. WHAT do they teach people about eating in Milwaukee?
Our dapper friend Ray Huff quietly came over, sat down next to me, pointedly looked at MTM, and started eating my boiled peanuts with me. “Some people just don’t get Southern,” he said conspiratorially.
Maybe so. But everyone should get boiled peanuts.
When I last made boiled peanuts, I did it this way:
Bring water to a boil in a large, deep pot. Add enough salt to the water to make it briny, anywhere from 3/4 cup to 1 cup. The amount of salt is contingent upon how salty you want them. I prefer less salty, but some people prefer more. Stir to dissolve.
Wash 4 – 5 pounds of raw peanuts, leaving the shells on. When the water boils, place the peanuts in the water. Cover, stirring occasionally, and let boil for at least 3 hours, though I prefer the peanuts very soft, which usually takes at least 3 1/2 hours.
Remove from water and let cool just enough to be able to not burn your fingers when you rip into them.