Spiced Nuts with Bacon
Makes about 2 cups
The combination of crunch, sweetness, salt, and meatiness is irresistible to most folks. Add the nuance of aromatic spices and seasonings and you get pleasing notes and accents that make this simple recipe friendly on the palate.
Glazing the nuts in a spiced sugared mixture keeps them super-crunchy, never soft and soggy. Using bacon instead of butter produces a brawny flavor that stands up to a cold dark beer or a peaty single malt Scotch or fine old bourbon. We are partial to the combination of walnuts and cashews, but feel free to use whatever nuts you like, so long as they are raw and unsalted.
This is great party food; make up a batch and store any leftovers in an airtight covered container 4 to 5 days.
5 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into ½-inch pieces
1 cup unsalted raw cashews
1 cup unsalted raw walnuts or pecans
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
3 packed teaspoons light or dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350?F.
2 Cook the bacon in a medium-size skillet over medium heat until lightly browned and most of the fat is rendered, 5 to 8 minutes, stirring often and adjusting the heat as necessary. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate to drain, setting aside 1 tablespoon of bacon fat in the skillet.
3 Line a large shallow rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and scatter all of the nuts on it in a single layer. Bake the nuts until they begin to brown, about 5 minutes, then rotate the baking sheet 180 degrees so the back of the baking sheet faces the front of the oven and bake the nuts until fragrant and slightly darker in color, about 5 minutes longer. Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack and let the nuts cool.
4 While the nuts cool, combine the granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon of the brown sugar, and the salt, curry powder, cumin, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper in a medium-size mixing bowl. Set the spice mixture aside.
5 Add 2 tablespoons of water and the remaining 2 teaspoons of brown sugar to the skillet with the reserved bacon fat. Let come to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly. Stir in the nuts, setting aside the lined baking sheet. Add the drained bacon and cook, stirring constantly, until the nuts are glossy and the liquid has evaporated, about 11/2 minutes.
6 Add the glazed nut mixture to the bowl with the spice mixture and toss well to coat. Transfer the nut mixture back to the parchment paper-lined baking sheet to cool completely. When cool, the nut mixture can be stored in an airtight container 4 to 5 days.