Ahh, smoked almonds. We both have childhood memories of them being around occasionally - usually during the holidays. We got them in small containers and they felt like a precious, rationed commodity.
For some time now, we've been lucky enough to be able to purchase fresh almonds straight from a local grower, Hopkins AG, at our farmer's market.
I don't know why it didn't occur to us earlier that we should try smoking some. A few weeks ago we gave it a go, and they
are were fantastic!
Our almond vendor sells both raw and roasted - for this purpose I chose shelled, raw nuts. To help the salt stick to the nuts, we considered olive oil, melted butter, or even water. We went the savory flavor route and chose butter.
After grinding some salt into a fine powder using a spice grinder, I mixed it liberally into the nuts while the butter was still warm.
Then I carefully spread the nuts evenly on a pizza grate and got them on the smoker.
Because the almonds sit on the top grate, you have room to smoke something else at the same time (in this case we had some homemade bratwurst hanging underneath, but that's another post altogether...)
They were smoked with hickory and alder for about 2 hours (an hour at 180°F for the sausages, then a second hour at 220°F to crisp up the almonds).
They turned out great - salty, crunchy, savory and completely addictive. A perfect accompaniment to a nice, stiff gin and tonic on a warm spring evening.
2 cups raw almonds
2 tablespoons butter, melted
4 teaspoons kosher salt
wood for smoking, such as hickory and alder
Grind the salt into a powder using a spice grinder or mortar and pestle. Put the almonds into a large bowl and stir in 1 tablespoon of the melted butter. Let sit 5 minutes to set slightly. Add the 2nd tablespoon of butter and stir in 1 tablespoon of powdered salt, 1 teaspoon at a time, until evenly coated.
Spread the almonds onto a pizza grate or other screen set on the smoker rack. Smoke for about 1 hour at 150°F to 180°F and 1 hour at 200°F to 230°F. Be careful to keep the heat below 250°F to avoid burning.
Let the almonds cool to room temperature, then store them a tightly sealed jar for 2 days before eating (if you can manage to resist them!).