Jamaican jerk spices are used as a dry spice rub on grilled meats and fish. It has roots going back to Africa when it was brought to the Caribbean by colonial era slaves, and I thought it would be fun to try it on nuts. It's a complex blend of spices, but the defining flavors are allspice and hot pepper, and the whole thing is a little bit unexpected, which I like.
Here's my cast of flavors: dried hot chilies, allspice berries, clove, thyme, garlic, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and smoked sea salt. They make an authentic and powerful statement, and actually the cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger give it a hint of holiday, so it's perfect for this season.
I also used a touch of brown sugar to give the mix a hit of sweetness and the juice of half a lemon for a surprising tang. The hot pepper gives a pleasant amount of heat.
Use whatever nuts you like, but it helps to get them as fresh and whole as possible. I used macadamias, pecan halves, almond, peanuts, pistachios, red walnuts, cashews and hazelnuts. I start with raw nuts, but roast them before spicing. You can do this in the oven or on the stove top, but the stove top gives you a little more control.
Jerk Spiced Nuts
makes 5 cups
5 cups mixed raw nuts (I used walnuts, peanuts, pistachios, pecans, macadamias, cashews, hazelnuts and almonds)
- Put the nuts in a large skillet and roast them for about 15 minutes over medium heat. Stir them often, and shake the pan gently. After about 10 minutes you should start to see a hint of color on the nuts. You will hear the crackle of skins crisping, and begin to smell the aroma. Continue roasting for another 5 minutes, being extra careful not to let them burn. Don't walk away, nuts can burn in an instant.
- Gently transfer the nuts onto a baking sheet.
1 Tbsp brown sugar
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 Tbsp ground dried red peppers
1 Tbsp ground allspice
1 1/2 tsp smoked sea salt
zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp garlic powder
- In the same pan, add the oil, sugar and lemon juice. Heat until sizzling, and all the sugar is dissolved.
- Add the nuts and the rest of the spices back into the pan and continue to roast for a few more minutes, stirring to combine everything. When the nuts have absorbed all the liquids, transfer them to a parchment lined baking sheet and spread them out to cool.
- After they have cooled you can store them in an airtight container.
- Just before serving, heat the nuts on a dry baking sheet ay 300 for about 5 minutes. Serve warm.
I like to garnish the nuts with some extra fresh thyme leaves and lemon zest before serving.
One year ago today---