Pecans are a true staple in every Southern kitchen. My grandparents had pecan trees in their backyard, and my Poppy and I used to forage for fallen nuts whenever I came to visit. Afterwards we would sit out on the front stoop with our overflowing buckets and crack them open one by one. Nanna would often bring us cold chocolate milk to enjoy while we shelled. Oh, the good ol' days.
I can't remember if I actually liked to eat them back then, but I sure do now. I don't come across fresh, buttery pecans as often as I would like, so you can bet that when I do I find some sort of delicious use for them. This is one of my favorites ways to prepare them.
These Spicy Maple Pecans are a great accompaniment to salads, or just in a big bowl sitting on the counter to nosh on every time you walk by. I also happen to think jars of these make perfect hostess gifts, dressed up with a cute label and tied with twine.
Make these soon, and make a lot (they go quickly)!
Source: Adapted from Martha Stewart
Yields: 4 cups
4 cups pecan halves
1/2 cup pure maple syrup, preferably Grade B
2 teaspoons kosher salt
Cayenne, to taste (I use it liberally!)
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place all ingredients in a large bowl and toss to combine. Spread nut mixture in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Bake, stirring occasionally, until browned, 15 to 20 minutes; let cool. Pecans can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container up one week.