In season from October through December, the arrival of fresh pecans has jump-started my need to make room in the freezer for up-coming holiday cooking and baking projects. So long as they are properly stored, shelled fresh pecans will keep in the freezer for “up to two years,” say experts like the folks at the Georgia Pecan Commission, making it possible to enjoy the taste of tree-fresh pecans not only during the holidays, but all year long – and beyond. When they are available, buy fresh shelled pecans in bulk for use in recipes and for eating out of hand and, so long as they are at their optimum when they are placed in the freezer, pecans will remain that way, even if they are frozen, allowed to thaw and re-frozen again. Holding more than 19 vitamins and minerals – including vitamin A, vitamin E, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, a number of B vitamins and zinc, pecans are also especially nutritional because they contain more antioxidants than other nut. Good for making more than just cookies pies and pralines, pecans may be used in a wide array of dishes for breakfast and brunch, to main courses, sides, desserts and more. Pecans add crunch to stuffing and relish, flavor to chicken salad and a bit of pizzazz to mixed green or fruit salads. If you are wondering how to measure pecans, know that one pound of in-the-shell pecans will yield about three cups shelled pecans and that a pound of shelled pecans will give you about three and three-quarters cup chopped pecans. The time for enjoying the holidays is literally right around the corner, but for fresh pecans, the time is now.
Sue Ade is a syndicated food writer with broad experience and interest in the culinary arts. She has worked and resided in the Lowcountry of South Carolina since 1985 and may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 cup buttermilk
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons melted butter, margarine or vegetable oil
½ cup finely chopped pecans, plus more pecans for garnish (for added flavor, pan toast pecans; directions follow)
Softened butter, for serving
Warmed pancake syrup, for serving
In a medium mixing bowl, blend flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda. In a separate bowl, whisk together egg, buttermilk, vanilla and butter or oil; do not overmix. Pour the liquid mixture into the dry ingredients and blend; do not overmix. (It’s OK if the batter has some lumps.) Fold in pecans. Using about ¼ cup of batter, pour batter onto a preheated medium-hot griddle, and cook pancakes until golden brown, about two minutes. (You should see bubbles begin to form and break around the edges of the pancakes.) Carefully flip pancakes and cook until the other side is golden brown, about 1 to 2 minutes. Makes about 10 (3-inch) pancakes. Serve with butter and syrup; garnish with chopped pecans, as desired.
Place pecans in a dry heavy skillet set over medium heat. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring the nuts and shaking the pan frequently. Watch pecans carefully to keep them from burning. When the nuts are lightly toasted, remove pan from heat and spread nuts onto a foil-lined baking sheet to cool. (Pecans will continue to brown some after they are removed from pan.)
Gluten-Free Pecan-Crusted Turkey Tenderloin
Brining the turkey in buttermilk, salt and sugar for 30 minutes helps insure the turkey stays moist and tender. The cutlets are seared in a minimum of oil in the skillet then baked over a wire rack so the flavorful pecan crust cooks crispy and delicious.
1 pound turkey tenderloin, cut crosswise into 4 equal portions
2 cups nonfat buttermilk,
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar
2 large egg whites
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 cup gluten-free Kellogg’s® Rice Krispies®, crushed
½ cup finely chopped Georgia Pecans
2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
Place one portion of turkey at a time between sheets of plastic wrap and pound with a meat mallet or heavy skillet until flattened to an even thickness, slightly thicker than ¼ inch. (It will be about the size of your hand.) Pour the buttermilk in a bowl. Add salt and sugar; seal and stir to dissolve. Add the turkey and submerge. Cover and refrigerate to marinate for 30 minutes (but no longer or it may be too salty). Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place a wire rack on a rimmed baking sheet. Combine egg whites, mustard, paprika and pepper in a shallow dish. Combine cereal and pecans in a second shallow dish. Remove the turkey from the marinade and discard the marinade. Using tongs dredge the turkey in the egg mixture, allowing the excess to drip back into the dish to ensure a very thin coating. Then, dredge both sides in the cereal mixture, pressing the crumbs onto each piece to evenly coat. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Place 2 of the pieces in the pan without crowding; cook until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Transfer to the wire rack on the baking sheet. Wipe out the pan and repeat with the remaining oil and turkey, adjusting the heat as necessary to prevent burning. Transfer the baking sheet to the oven. Bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of a cutlet registers 165 degrees, 12 to 15 minutes. Serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.
Butternut Squash Gratin with Herb Georgia Pecan Crumble
Sweet, nutty butternut squash is one of fall’s most delicious vegetables and pairs wonderfully with pecans, one of fall’s most delicious nuts. If you want to take a serious shortcut for this dish, you can substitute one 29-ounce can pumpkin puree, which is actually a winter squash like butternut squash called calabaza. The Herb Pecan Crumble tastes equally great with both.
For the Squash
1 tablespoon olive oil, more for the baking dish
1 shallot, finely chopped
3 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into ½-inch cubes
1 teaspoon firmly packed dark brown sugar
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
2½ cups homemade chicken stock or low-fat reduced-sodium chicken broth
Coarse kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the Herb Crumble Topping
½ cup coarsely chopped Georgia Pecans, plus ¼ cup whole Georgia Pecans
½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour, more for your hands
2 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons low fat milk
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
To cook the squash, in a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium-low heat. Add the shallot and cook until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the squash cubes, brown sugar and nutmeg. Add chicken stock and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil over high heat then reduce the heat to simmer. Cover and simmer until the squash is tender, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, brush a 1-quart shallow baking dish with oil. Set aside. When the squash is almost tender, prepare the herb crumble topping: In a small bowl combine the chopped and whole Georgia Pecans, flour, parmesan, baking powder, salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Add the milk, oil and sage. Stir until well combined. Set aside. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Drain the squash and return it to the saucepan. (Reserve the cooking liquid for another use or discard.) Smash the squash with a potato masher until chunky. Taste and adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper. Transfer the squash to the prepared baking dish. Lightly flour your hands and crumble the topping in small cherry size pieces on top of the squash. Transfer to the oven and bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes. Serve immediately. Makes 4 to 6 servings.
Pecan Freezing and Storage Tips
• Transfer shelled pecans to an airtight container or zipper-locked bag after purchase.
• Store in the refrigerator for up to nine months or freeze them for up to two years.
• Pecans can be thawed and refrozen repeatedly without losing flavor or texture.
• Store unshelled pecans in a cool, dry place for three to six months.