Sweet and Spicy Ballpark Nuts
Ancho (Ahn-cho) Chile (Capsicum Annum) means Wide Chile Pepper. This chile ranges from 3 – 4 on a heat scale of 1 to 10. An Ancho is the dried form of a Poblano Pepper and often is mislabeled as a Pasilla or Mulato Pepper. Anchos have sweet fruity flavor with hints of cherry, prune, and fig. Anchos, combined with the Pasilla and Guajillo, form the Holy Trinity of chiles used to prepare the traditional mole sauces. Scoville heat units are 1,000 to 3,000.
Anchos are great in salsa, soups, enchilada and any sauce needing mild heat and chile flavor. Chopped, pureed or ground, they can be added directly to your recipes.
For the spice mixture:
3 sticks whole canela (whole cinnamon sticks may be substituted)
1 tsp. anise seeds
1 tsp. caraway seeds
1 tsp. fennel seeds
For the nuts:
5 1/2 c. peanuts, raw
3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp. sea salt
1 1/2 tsp. ancho chile, ground
2 tsp. spice mixture
1 tbsp. light brown sugar, packed
Note that this spice mixture yields much more than the two teaspoons needed for the nut recipe below. You can store the remaining spice mixture in a glass bottle or jar and use for additional batches of nuts or in other recipes. I even enjoy it sprinkled over oatmeal, a bowl of cereal, or a piece of toast.
Preheat oven to 350°.
Place the whole cinnamon sticks on a sheet tray or comal and toast in the preheated oven for 5 minutes. Remove the toasted sticks and break into thirds or quarters, placing the canela pieces, anise, caraway and fennel seeds in the bowl of a spice mill. Grind the spices to a fine powder and set aside.
Meanwhile, toss the oil, peanuts, sea salt and ancho chile in a large bowl until well-combined. Spread seasoned nuts evenly on a rimmed sheet tray and roast for 10 minutes. Remove after 10 minutes and carefully toss the nuts. Replace and roast for 10 minutes more. After 20 minutes, remove the nuts back to your large bowl and toss with the spice mixture and brown sugar. Serve immediately or store in a sealed container for up to two weeks.
YIELD: approximately 6 cups of seasoned nuts