Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Green Chile Pistachio (or Peanut) Brittle


Pistachios and peanuts are a couple more great New Mexico products, both harvested in mid-September.

Amazingly, pistachios are in the same family as mangoes, cashews and poison oak. The tree needs long, hot summers and moderately cold winters, so our climate is perfect for it. In fact, the climate (and altitude) of the Tularosa Basin in southern New Mexico is almost identical to the areas of Iran and Turkey where pistachios have been grown for centuries. They are very long-lived trees, and tolerant of our alkaline soil.

Peanuts are a legume, grown in the sandy soil near Portales, in Eastern New Mexico. I was looking for locally grown peanuts at the store this week - Smith's had none, but surprisingly the Lowe's grocery near our house had Sunland peanuts in the shell (their website is full of neat peanut info!) The kind they grow are Valencia peanuts, smaller and sweeter than other varieties; 90% of all Valencia peanuts produced in the U.S. are grown in New Mexico.

Brittle is amazingly easy to make, especially with this microwave recipe. Dried green chile powder makes this a sweet and spicy treat. Although it's not as commonly used, you can find dried green chile at many grocery stores in New Mexico, right next to the dried red chile. This stuff is incredibly addictive - I seriously could not stop eating it.

1/2 C. corn syrup
1 C. white sugar
1 C. shelled pistachios
1 T. butter
1 T. dried green chile powder
1 t. baking soda

Mix the corn syrup and sugar in a medium-size bowl, and microwave on high power 4 minutes. It should be quite foamy. Add the pistachios and cook 3 more minutes. Stir in the butter and green chile powder, and cook 1 1/2 minutes longer. Stir in the baking soda, and quickly spread the mixture on a buttered cookie sheet. When cool, flex the cookie sheet to pop the brittle free, then break it up into chunks.

Update: This recipe works perfectly in an 800-watt microwave oven, but if you have a microwave of a different wattage, check out the awesome conversion charts at http://www.microwavecookingforone.com/Charts/Wattage.html
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