Yesterday I went to the University Barber Shop in Auburn, Al (my home town), which sells pecans from local trees. I bought three bags of cracked pecans. Cracked pecans mean that the shells have been cracked open but not removed. Besides being cheaper, I think they have a nice look in the big plastic bags: mostly striped shells with hints of the flesh showing through.
I took them home and spent the late afternoon shelling. There is something so utterly calming about shelling peas or nuts, especially when they’re fresh, watching two bowls slowly fill, one with parts of shells or skins and one with the cleaned produce. I love shelling pecans for the same reason I love cooking: it is a methodical process that engages the senses and the mind without tiring them. Time should be allowed every day, I think, for tasks that offer such satisfaction.
And then, when the shelling is done, one can throw the chaff on the fire to make the flames flair and exude a toasty smelling smoke.
Happy holidays to all.
Salty toasted pecans
A few handfuls of shelled pecans
2 tbs unsalted butter
Salt to taste
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.
Go through the pecans with a nut scraper or fork to make sure none of the bitter pith is clinging to the flesh. When thoroughly cleaned, spread them on a baking sheet in one layer.
Melt the butter in a small dish. Spoon it over the pecans, give them a good shake, and then spread them out again so that they are not clumped together.
Salt liberally and bake in the oven for about an hour, or until the nuts become fragrant and crisp but not blackened.