The ways to Cook with Pecans readers are going nuts for these standout Southern pecan recipes.

While Pickapeppa Hot Sauce actually hails from Jamaica, its flavor profile—spicy-salty-sweet with the oaky undertones that come from barrel aging—meshes perfectly with Southern standbys from barbecue to Bloody Marys. When it collides with pecans, it’s a match made in Southern cocktail-hour heaven.


INGREDIENTS

    • 1 pound (about 4 cups) pecan halves
    • 1 (5-ounce) bottle Pickapeppa sauce
    • 1/4 cup water
    • 1/4 cup brown sugar
    • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
    • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika

PREPARATION

  1. Place the pecans in a large bowl. In a glass measuring cup, whisk together the Pickapeppa sauce, water, brown sugar, salt, and smoked paprika. Pour over the pecans and let sit for 1 hour, tossing occasionally to mix. Drain.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Arrange the drained nuts in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, tossing once, until fragrant. Let cool on the baking sheet. The nuts will keep stored in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
  3. TIP: For a sweeter spin, sprinkle the nuts with an additional ¼ cup brown sugar just before you put them in the oven.
Party Snack: Arkansas Trail Mix
Local ingredients plus savory cheese straws equal one addictive nosh

Nothing against a bowlful of pretzels, but today’s elevated cocktails deserve a slightly more inspired culinary partner. Matthew McClure, head chef of the Hive restaurant and bar in Bentonville, Arkansas, agrees. A throwback to a time when bar snacks merited the same considered panache as the drinks they cushioned, his Arkansas Trail Mix combines house-made cheese straws with a slew of local add-ins: candied black walnuts and pecans, and flash-fried soybeans and black-eyed peas. “Creating the recipe was a very thoughtful and methodical process,” McClure says. “I wanted to give people a snack that told the story of Arkansas.” Mix up a batch his way, or build a custom blend using McClure’s cheese straws as a base and layering in your own native ingredients on top. Either way, you’ll come up with a snack that satisfies well beyond the bar.

INGREDIENTS

  • ARKANSAS TRAIL MIX COMPONENTS
    • Crunchy Black-Eyed Peas
    • Candied Pecans
    • Candied Black Walnuts
    • Crunchy Soybeans
    • Cheese Straws
  • CRUNCHY BLACK-EYED PEAS
    • 1/2 cup dried black-eyed peas (soak in water until hydrated)
    • 1 carrot, peeled and cut into thirds
    • 1/2 yellow onion, cut into thirds
    • 1 stalk celery, cut into thirds
    • Kosher salt
    • Lemon zest
    • Smoked paprika
  • CANDIED SPICED PECANS
    • 1 1/2 quart heavy syrup
    • 3 cups raw, shelled pecans
    • Cayenne pepper (to taste but this gets hot fast)
    • Kosher salt
  • CANDIED BLACK WALNUTS
    • 1 1/2 quart heavy syrup
    • 3 cups raw, shelled black walnuts
    • Kosher salt
  • CRUNCHY SOYBEANS
    • 1 cup of dried soybeans
    • 2 quarts water
    • Paprika
    • Kosher salt
    • Lemon zest
  • CHEESE STRAWS
    • 8 oz. shredded sharp cheddar cheese, room temperature
    • 1/4 cup softened butter
    • 1 cup all-purpose flour
    • 1/2 tsp. salt
    • 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper

PREPARATION

  1. For the trail mix: Toss all items together in a large bowl.
  2. For the Crunchy Black-Eyed Peas: Cook peas covered in water with celery, carrots, and onions until tender; cool in liquid, then strain.
  3. Heat vegetable oil to 325 degrees, and fry peas until crispy.
  4. Toss the peas with salt, lemon zest, and paprika, and cool in a single layer on a baking sheet.
  5. For the Candied Spiced Pecans: In a medium saucepan, bring heavy syrup to boil with pecans. Reduce heat and simmer gently for 30-45 minutes. Strain syrup and allow the pecans to cool for about 5 minutes.
  6. Heat vegetable oil to 325 degrees and fry pecans until they just start to toast.
  7. Remove and toss with kosher salt and cayenne pepper, then spread in a single layer on a baking sheet, giving them a gentle shake every few minutes to prevent sticking.
  8. For the Candied Black Walnuts: In a medium saucepan, bring heavy syrup to boil with walnuts. Reduce heat and simmer gently for 30-45 minutes. Strain syrup and allow the walnuts to cool for about 5 minutes.
  9. Heat vegetable oil to 325 degrees and fry walnuts until they just start to toast.
  10. Remove and toss with kosher salt, then spread in a single layer on a baking sheet, giving them a gentle shake every few minutes to prevent sticking.
  11. For the Crunchy Soybeans: Soak soybeans in cold water overnight. Strain excess water from the soybeans and let beans dry for 3-5 minutes.
  12. Heat vegetable oil to 325 degrees, and fry soybeans for about 5 minutes, or until the beans begin to toast.
  13. Toss soybeans with salt and lemon zest, and cool.
  14. For the Cheese Straws: Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  15. Combine cheese and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat on medium with a paddle attachment until thoroughly blended. In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt, and cayenne, and whisk together. Slowly add the flour mixture to the butter and cheese, and continue to beat until no longer crumbly.
  16. Roll the dough to ¼-inch thickness, then cut into ½-inch by 4½-inch straws. Place straws 1 inch apart on a parchment-covered tray. Bake for 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely.
Bourbon Pecan Pie
It’s hard to beat a fresh pecan pie, unless you add a little bourbon

The only tree nut indigenous to the South, the pecan has been used in the region’s cooking since the earliest colonists met Native Americans. But the rise of pecan pie—sometimes called Karo pie—came centuries later, commonly traced to a product-based recipe printed on jars of Karo corn syrup, circa 1930.

“That doesn’t surprise me,” says Hilary White, chef and co-owner of the Hil in Serenbe, a 1,000-acre sustainable community located in Georgia’s Chattahoochee Hill Country. “There was a day when family favorites were a mix of recipes clipped from the Sunday newspaper and Ladies Auxiliary books. Others came straight off the flour sack.”

While pecans grow throughout the South, Georgia has been the nation’s largest producer since the late 1800s. The state’s growers even donated enough pecan trees to create wood handles for more than ten thousand torches carried during the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. With peak harvesting months October to December, it makes sense that pecan pie became a traditional Southern holiday dessert, and the rich, nutty flavor matches the aromatic spices used in savory Thanksgiving recipes. “Every year my father’s parents would drive from Florida to Ohio, where my family lived at the time, stopping in Georgia to buy pecans,” White says. “I remember it was dark outside and we’d sit in the eat-in kitchen, picking them. My grandfather would use the nutcracker, and my grandmother and I would use the nut picks. It was delicate work because you didn’t want to crush the pecans but keep them perfect halves for the pie.”

JOHNNY AUTRY

White’s maternal grandmother contributed the piecrust, and like most inherited family recipes, it has a few “miracle” ingredients. The flaky tenderness comes from fresh white lard, testament to the recipe’s age. And the acidity in the vinegar enhances the workability of the dough, keeping it so pliable you don’t even have to rest it.

“Pie making is sort of a lost art,” White says, “and this is a good old recipe.” Though she did add one other miracle ingredient to her grandparents’ version: bourbon. “It has the same flavor nuances of the dark corn syrup and makes the pie even more Southern.”


INGREDIENTS

  • PIE CRUST
    • 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour mixed with 3/4 tsp. kosher salt
    • 2/3 cup lard
    • 3/4 tsp. white vinegar
    • 1 small egg
    • Water
  • BOURBON PECAN PIE FILLING
    • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
    • 1 1/2 cups dark corn syrup
    • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
    • 1 1/2 tsp. all-purpose flour
    • 3 large eggs
    • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
    • 2 tbsp. bourbon
    • 1 1/2 tbsp. melted sweet butter
    • 1 1/2 cups pecans

PREPARATION

  1. For the pie crust: Place flour and salt in bowl, and cut in lard until mixture resembles small peas. In a Pyrex measuring cup, combine vinegar and egg, and add water to make ¹⁄³ cup liquid. Slowly add liquid to the flour mixture, forming dough. Do not overwork. Remove from bowl, halve, and pat into disks. If not using immediately, cover in plastic wrap and chill.
  2. Roll out one dough disk and fit in 9-inch pie pan, crimping edges.
  3. For the Bourbon Pecan Pie filling: Using a hand mixer, combine sugar, syrup, salt, flour, and eggs, mixing well. Stir in remaining ingredients and pour into unbaked pie shell.  
  4. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  5. Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes (a toothpick inserted in center should come out relatively clean). Remove from oven and place on cooling rack, allowing pie to rest for 2 to 3 hours to set.

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