The air was stale and hot, lines were long, and at one point we thought it might actually never end. Yes, there was a certain undeniable Hieronymus Bosch-like quality to the recent Craft Beer Fest L.A. that Hot Knives helped organize. But at least the beer was cold, right? And it flowed like wine.
Actually, the event was more than manageable — it was a downright success. A baker’s dozen of rad California breweries donated handcrafted ales, sours, porters, stouts and barleywines. Nearly one thousand people packed the floor to old timey bands. And all the grub was vegetarian, tasty and free…while it lasted.
But if there was a surplus of any one single commodity at last month’s inaugural beer festival, it was hands-down the hot nuts at the Hot Knives’ booth. Yep, just simple tree nuts roasted in fancy oils and spiked with punchy spices. We brought 90 pounds of ’em so we never ran out. Rosemary, olive oil and sea salt made the pecans a big hit. Vanilla-honey and fresh nutmeg turned the cashews into crack cocaine. But the real powerhouse of the event, was an improvised recipe for spicy smoked peanuts we stumbled on up while ransacking Alex’s spice shelves. A touch of brown sugar, coarse salt, a kiss of cayenne, whollops of bright red Aleppo pepper and, crucially, smoked black pepper. We like to think it made plenty of people brave the line for that fifteenth beer.
See for yourself! Thanks to our cammy friends Helena, Amanda and Michelle who caught the fest on tape,
Smoked Beer Nuts
2 cups raw, shelled peanuts
1/4 cup peanut oil (canola is ok)
2 Tbs. Aleppo pepper
1 Tbs. smoked black pepper
1 Tbs. granulated brown sugar
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 Tbs. kosher salt
1. Put a deep wok or cast iron skillet on high heat for several minutes before adding your raw peanuts and peanut oil. (You could also use a wok on an outdoor grill for extra smokey-summer-funtime.)
2. Lower flame to medium heat and stir nuts vigorously every 30 seconds to keep from uneven blackening. Cook this way for about 5 minutes, or until peanuts show visible signs of browning.
3. While stirring add in the Aleppo and smoked black pepper. Hold off on the other spices and continue roasting for 3-4 more minutes. Try a peanut — it should be slightly cooked but still chewy (they will get crunchier once cooled).
4. Remove nuts from heat and slide into a ceramic mixing bowl. Add the brown sugar, cayenne and salt. Real spice heads may want to add 1-2 teaspoons of your favorite hot sauce (any more will make your nuts damp and weird).
5. Serve with cold beer.
Beverage: Lagunita’s Ruben and the Jets
Soundtrack: Triple Chicken Foot’s “Old Plank Road”