Thursday, May 5, 2011

Rick Bayless' Oaxacan-Style Peanuts with Chile and Garlic

Happy Cinco de Mayo!!! While Cinco de Mayo technically celebrates the Battle of Puebla, and is mostly celebrated by Mexicans from the state of Puebla, Cinco de Mayo has taken on much larger significance in the United States as a holiday to generally celebrate Mexican, and the much broader category of Latina/o, heritage and culture.

As an enthusiast of Latin American food and culture, I wanted to share my deep enthusiasm for this standby recipe of a standard in one of Puebla's neighboring states, Oaxaca.

Ingredients for 4 cups of Oaxacan-Style Peanuts
1 tbsp olive or vegetable oil
4 dried árbol chiles, stemmed and torn into 1-inch pieces
8 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
24 ounces of toasted Spanish peanuts

Recipes don't get much simpler than this. Throw in the garlic, chiles, and oil into a large skillet and toss the ingredients every so often for about three minutes to soften and brown the garlic and to toast the chiles. Don't cook them completely because they'll continue to cook with the peanuts.

Throw in the peanuts and stir constantly for about ten minutes. The aroma of toasted garlic, chiles, and peanuts should fill your nose with each stir. Keep stirring until the aroma intensifies. If necessary, add salt to taste. If your peanuts are already salted, go easy on the salt. Let the peanuts cool to room temperature and store them in an airtight container. The first time I made these, I didn't let them cool enough, and when I reached in for a handful of peanuts, everything was disturbingly damp. Please don't make the same mistake.

The recipe should yield a delicious batch of rich, oily, garlicky, salty, and spicy peanuts. This isn't the cleanest snack, but it'll go perfectly with a cold beer or a tangy margarita. The more peanuts you eat, the more you begin to enjoy how the spicy oil and thin peanut skins cling to your fingers and require some serious finger licking. And when you get your first hit of a chunk of toasted garlic or chile, you'll be shocked at first, but you'll soon find yourself sifting through the peanuts for more.

I've also tried this with dried chipotle peppers, but it just isn't the same. I love the smokiness that the chipotle introduces to the peanuts, but I'd rather not sacrifice the pureness and clean spice of árbol chiles.

If you're scrambling to find something to contribute to a Cinco de Mayo party without adding to the inevitable mountains of Corona, Pacifico, tortilla chips, and salsa, take a few minutes to whip up this exceptionally quick and easy snack.

Enjoy your Cinco de Mayo!


  1. That looks so dangerously addictive.

  2. I wonder how it would taste processed and with a bit more oil. I've never had spicy peanut butter.

  3. Steph: I just finished eating all four cups...I'm officially peanuted out...until I make another batch at least....

    Emily: I've had some spicy peanut butter, but yea, I wonder how this particular recipe would turn out. Check out Tom Douglas' new pub, Bravehorse Tavern, some time. They've got some pretzels and fun peanut butter flavors going on, including smoked bacon peanut butter.


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