Ok, so let’s talk a minute about pecans. You know exactly what kind of year this has been, and that we went into it prepared to provide pecans to our full compliment of both restaurant and market customers, through the year. Things did not go down the way they are supposed to, and we find ourselves within reaching distance of new crop pecans, with freezers full. Normally, this time of year, I lay awake nights worrying if we have enough to get to Thanksgiving. This year, not so much.
Those of you who have tried our pecans know they are delicate because they are fresh, and that we work meticulously to process and freeze the nuts at their peak. If you have room in your freezer for a bulk purchase, now is the time to make a move. Shelled pecans are available online, in 20# increments, for $10 a pound. Do not be confused, this price is a loss for us. The greater loss would be to lose either, or both, of the two men I spend my days working with, and that is what too many pecans could mean. So, check your freezers. Talk to your friends/family, and get together on an order. Make nut mix and give it away as a homemade Christmas gift. Help a sister out. I am swimming in pecans!
Nuts go into the hopper at the top, and are fed through one at a time, individually cracked as they are transported around the little wheel at the bottom, and then dropped out into a container below.
Some of my favorite things to do with pecans, besides the more obvious stuff.
2# raw pecans, soaked overnight in water
1/4 teaspoon salt
Maple syrup to taste
Drain and rinse the pecans briefly, and blend, thoroughly, using 1-1.5 cups of fresh water. Line a fine strainer with a flour sack type cloth, or a double layer of cheesecloth, and pour in the blended pecan mixture. Stir a bit to facilitate draining. Once dripping has stopped, give it an hour, gather up the towel from the corners, and twist to get every bit of liquid possible out of the pecan meal that remains in the cloth. Reserve the meal. Stir the salt and a teaspoon or so of maple syrup into the milk, and taste. Adjust as needed with more salt, maple, or a bit of water if too rich. Store in a closed container in the back of the fridge. You could drink the milk with anything, use it as a basis with a little rum, for a lovely holiday milk punch, or pour it over an unsweetened cereal for a change of pace. There are no limits here.
Now, for The Pecan Meal:
I call them Baby Biscuits, because that is what they are, here. In any other place, these are just really good, crisp cookies. Feel free to name them as you wish.
2 Sticks butter, salted
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1.5 cups all purpose flour, or the sifted artisan from Janie’s Mill is particularly good
1 cup pecan meal
In a mixer, with the whip, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in the vanilla and salt, briefly. Change to a paddle, and add the flour and pecan meal, alternating between the two, in about half cup quantities. Mix just until well blended, and the dough comes together. Roll the dough into 1 to 1.5 inch logs, wrap tightly with parchment or plastic wrap, and chill overnight. I like warm cookies, so I tend to make a couple of short logs, and they do freeze just fine. Thoroughly defrost in the refrigerator before attempting slicing.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, lightly oil, or cut parchment for a sheet pan, and slice the cookies into 1/4 inch rounds and lay on the sheet pan. They will not grow, so can be fairly close together. Bake 14-16 minutes, until just ringed with golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool a bit on the sheet before transferring to a cooling rack. This is where the parchment is better than the oil, as it can be lifted and transferred to the cooling rack with the cookies.