It’s nearly impossible to drive on the back roads of Central Florida without passing a small mom and pop grocery or a roadside stand promoting assorted Indian River citrus and local produce, gator jerky, and Cajun boiled peanuts. We purposely use certain roads when we’re driving east to west so that we can pick up Cajun boiled peanuts. Americans have eaten boiled peanuts, especially in the South, since about the 1800s. Peanuts grow plentiful in some of the lower southern states, so I’m not surprised that they grew to become such a popular snack.
The peanuts are usually sold in large paper cups—usually two—one holds the boiled peanuts and the other holds the shells. Boiled peanuts should be savored first before eating. Pop the whole peanut in your mouth, shell included, and savor the spicy Cajun flavor. Then gently crack the shell with your teeth and use your tongue to wiggle the peanut until it separates from the shell. The peanut shells are soft and tasty and crack easily. The peanuts are solid but tender and full of Cajun flavor. Boiled peanuts have an earthy flavor that’s not unlike the flavor of purple hull or black eye peas.
This is a great campfire or barbecue food. Get an outdoor kettle and cook these on the hot campfire. I don’t usually cook them outside, but I often use a crock pot. If I boil one pound of peanuts, I cook them overnight in the crock pot. If I boil more than one pound, I use a large stockpot and cook them on the stove.
Boiled peanuts can be served hot or cold. I like them either way, with or without the Cajun spices. I’ve made them before with more than just the dry seasonings. Add fresh garlic, onion, jalapeño peppers, and peppercorns—or, whatever flavor combinations you like. I usually start with a tablespoon of Cajun and Creole seasoning and increase the amount as the peanuts simmer. You can also boil them in salt and serve them plain. These are good, too.
- 2 pounds raw jumbo peanuts in shells
- 10 ounces salt
- 1 gallon water
- 1 tablespoon Zatarain's Big & Zesty Original Creole Seasonings
- 1 tablespoon Emeril's Cajun Seasoning Blend
- Soak the raw peanuts in brine overnight over for at least 8 hours. Wash peanuts and place in a large stockpot. Add a gallon of water and 10 ounces of salt. Place a dish on the peanuts and a mason jar filled with water on top of the plate. Cover, and let soak overnight. The peanuts should stay submerged in the water while soaking.
- Remove the mason jar and the plate. Add additional water as needed. The water should double the amount of peanuts. Add Cajun and Creole seasonings. Bring peanuts to a boil. Let boil for about 5 minutes, then reduce heat and cover. Simmer for about 4 hours or until tender, tasting the spices every so often. Increase spices as needed.
- Peanuts can be served in liquid or drained. Serve hot or refrigerate until chilled.