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Homemade Peanut Butter

Thursday, March 03, 2016

Recipe adopted from Alton Brown's Good Eats 3.  [Recipe makes roughly 1 1/2 cups].

After recently seeing some pretty abstract (but interesting) takes on PB&J this week, along with a few other reasons, I had peanut butter on the mind.  I already was planning on making some bread for the week, so I thought, why not attempt some peanut butter to go with it?  When I used to live in Dubuque, I used to walk to a local specialty store on the weekends and get their peanut butter, which was ground right in front of you (to order)!  But since Dubuque's a bit of a hike now, it's probably about time that I learned how to make homemade peanut butter myself.

I remembered that Alton Brown had a recipe for peanut butter in one of his cookbooks, so I used that to get started.  The first step was to roast off a couple pounds of Spanish peanuts, still in their shells.  Thirty minutes later, we were ready for step two: separating the peanuts from the shells and skins.

Now I'll start by saying that after working in the restaurant business, I'm used to monotonous tasks.  Need 50 pounds of onions peeled and julienned?  Consider it done.  Need a fresh 30 pound shipment of salmon skinned, deboned, and portioned?  I've got you covered.  What about 15 pounds of button mushrooms cleaned and uniformly sliced?  My pleasure.  But cracking open a couple pounds of peanuts that don't want to break where they should, and then rub off the skins by hand and pluck out the individual peanuts?  Thanks, but no thanks :)  I'm officially retiring from this job after doing it only once, hah!  Maybe it was just an off day, but in my opinion, the time needed to invest in this job isn't worth the difference in quality if I would have just started off with pre-roasted and pre-shelled peanuts.

If you're feeling ambitious, by all means, follow the recipe as intended.  But to those just looking for a quick and fun spread to make, consider this a friendly heads up to make this one shortcut from the start.

INGREDIENTS:

2 pounds raw Spanish peanuts, in shell*
2 tablespoons peanut oil*
1 tablespoon kosher salt*
*[See note above about using pre-roasted and pre-shelled peanuts]

15 ounces roasted, shelled, and skinned Spanish peanuts (from the 2 pounds shelled peanuts)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons honey
1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons peanut oil

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 350° F.

Wash the peanuts under cold water.  Drain and then dry off well with paper towels.  Toss in a large bowl with the peanut oil and salt, and divide between two sheet pans.  Roast for 30 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through.  Cool.

Crack open the shells and separate the skinned peanuts from the waste.  Add the skinned peanuts, salt, and honey to a food processor and mix for a minute.  Slowly drizzle the peanut oil into the processor while it's running, until a smooth, spreadable peanut butter forms.  [Side note:  You may need to increase the amount of salt, honey, and oil used, depending on the final taste and consistency].  Use immediately, or else store in the refrigerator for up to 2 months.  [Side note:  The peanut butter will thicken up quite a bit in the refrigerator, so to get a spreadable consistency back, just heat it briefly in the microwave before reuse].

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