Holiday sipping season is upon us, and everyone knows that hearty winter drinks are best when served with a hearty snack. We love chef Logan Cox’s twist on bar nuts at Ripple: toasted pecans made doubly smoky by a coating of Basque chili pepper and meaty strips of Tennessee bacon (though any smoky slab bacon will do). Make a fresh batch before a party, or prepare them in advance and store in an air tight container for up to two weeks. The only other instructions from the chef?
“Eat the hell out of them till you feel guilty,” says Cox.
Serves 5 as a snack
1 pound raw, unsalted pecans
1 cup diced Benton’s Bacon (available online) or other smoky bacon
1½ teaspoons kosher salt
1½ teaspoons Espelette pepper, or smoked Spanish paprika with a pinch of cayenne
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Cut bacon into lardons (narrow, matchstick-size strips), spread them on a sheet tray in the middle shelf of the oven, and bake until the fat is rendered, about 10 to 15 minutes.
Strain out the bacon fat using a strainer. Save the strained fat and the crispy lardons in two separate bowls.
Next, spread the pecans on a separate sheet tray and place in the oven. Toast them for about 12 minutes, until a nice aroma is achieved and the oils are released from the nuts.
Toss the hot pecans in a bowl with the bacon fat and season them with Espelette pepper and salt. Spread them out to cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.
Garnish with a few of the lardons (or all of them, if you’re a true bacon lover) on top.