Peanuts & Donuts

It’s been a lot of fun sharing our boiled peanuts and beignets with everyone. Reactions vary from bemusement to befuddlement, and we always try to explain what we’re putting in front of you. Almost every day, we update our servers on the questions, feedback, and talking points for these items.

It’s really not very hard to convince people that they should eat clouds of deep fried dough that have been dusted in powdered sugar. We make the dough every day, and while it’s not hard, it does require some planning, to inoculate the dough with the yeast, mix it correctly for the proper amount of gluten development (makes bread hard v. soft, feathery v. crumbly), and manage the temperature during fermentation in order to have the wheat and the yeast at the best stage of development before hitting the fryer. It’s tricky, to be sure, but when you do it every day, tricks become trade.

The boiled peanuts have been another story. Folks who grew up outside the deep south often aren’t sure what to make of them. We’ve leaned to more thoroughly explain the origins and manners (or lack thereof) of the tradition.

Boiled peanuts are one of those things that is distinctly regional, much as persimmons are in southern Indiana or fried whole belly clams are in Connecticut and Rhode Island, and they are limited exclusively to the deep south, where peanuts come out of the ground and are local produce. We soak them in brine overnight, rinse them, and boil them for six hours in salted water with cayenne. They taste a lot like edamame. In the south, they are usually sold in road side stands and gas stations, definitely a casual snack food.

We chose them as our welcome plate for a few reasons: Folks from the deep south now located in Chicago can sit down, and immediately feel at home and, we hope that many others will discover a great new snack food. Boiled peanuts aren’t fried, are rich in protein, contain resveratrol and other antioxidants, and are absolutely delicious.

Everyone expects lame bread or some pretentious amuse blah blah blah when they go into restaurants nowadays. We wanted to give you a little something totally southern – so southern that it is a completely exotic food to midwesterners while it is all the same a comfort food to folks from the coastal south. We hope you like them as much as we do.