The Best Candied Pecans & A Thanksgiving Day Salad

Thanksgiving SaladSo, you see my vision. It’s nothing earth-shattering. A classic combination, really. But a timeless one, and one I think will be festive for Thanksgiving Day.

So, to execute this salad, all I need to finish tweaking is my recipe for poached pears. The pecans I’ve got down to a science, (for me at least — I’ll explain in a bit); the dressing, made with reduced orange juice, white balsamic vinegar and olive oil, has been tested countless times (Aunt Vicki’s recipe, to be provided next week); the blue cheese (perhaps Stilton or Maytag) and the endive merely need to be purchased. The pears, however, have been giving me a little trouble this past week. I’ve been working with a combination of white wine, sugar, orange zest, cinnamon stick and vanilla bean. Something is not quite right yet. Any suggestions are welcome.

Now, about these pecans. I’ve been making this recipe for several years now, and I find it produces the crunchiest, most delicious candied pecans. I’m not promising a simple and foolproof recipe, however. It’s the kind of recipe, in fact, that could potentially lead you to swear off my recipes altogether.

The first two-thirds of the recipe is simple: the pecans are blanched for two minutes, then simmered in simple syrup for five minutes. The final third of the process, which calls for deep-frying the pecans, is where problems can arise. I suggest using a deep fryer with a built in thermometer. My deep fryer continues to exist in my kitchen solely for the purpose of making these pecans — it keeps the oil at 375ºF, which is key for this recipe. I tried deep-frying the pecans in a heavy-bottomed pot on my stovetop once, and the process was so frustrating: At first the oil was too hot, then it wasn’t hot enough, and before I had finished frying, I had ruined nearly half the batch.

The key, I’ve learned, is to let the pecans fry for about 3 to 5 minutes — the longer they fry, the crunchier they will be. However, they must be removed from the oil before they burn, and they continue to cook a little bit once they’ve been removed from the oil. It’s a trial-and-error process, but one well worth it in the end. I highly recommend using a deep fryer with a built-in thermometer, but if you are comfortable with stove-top deep frying, by all means go for it.

Candied Pecans

1 lb. raw (unblanched, unsalted) pecans = 4 heaping cups
1 1/3 cups sugar

1. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Add pecans and simmer for 2 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water.

2. Combine the sugar with 1 cup of water and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 2 minutes, add pecans and simmer for 5 minutes. Drain.

3. Meanwhile, preheat a deep fryer to 375ºF, or pour canola or peanut oil into a heavy-bottomed pot to reach at least one-inch up the sides and fix a deep-fry thermometer to its side. When oil is ready, fry pecans for 3 to 5 minutes in small batches. This will be a trial-and-error process. The longer the pecans fry, the crunchier they will be. If the oil is too hot, they’ll burn before they get crispy. So, fry the pecans in small batches until you can read your oil. Remove pecans from fryer with a slotted spoon or spider and let drain on cooling rack or parchment paper — not paper towels. Repeat process until all pecans are fried. Refrain from sampling until the pecans have cooled completely — they’ll be crunchier and tastier when they are completely cool.

This recipe begins with raw (unblanched, unroasted, unsalted) pecans:

They are blanched for two minutes in boiling water, then drained:

Then they simmer in a sugar syrup for five minutes:

Then they are drained again before being deep-fried for three to five minutes.

candiedpecans

Comments

  1. Manggy says

    I’m really looking forward to your Thanksgiving spread! The candied pecans look perfect– very professionally done. I urge you to try using your deep fryer for more stuff, though :)

  2. Sara says

    When I make candied pecans, I usually just toss the nuts in some caramelized sugar, which tastes good but the nuts tend to stick together. Yours look much better!

  3. Rosa's Yummy Yums says

    It sounds perfect! A delightful combination of flavors!

    Those candied pecans look incredibly scrumptious!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  4. Karen says

    The salad sounds amazing… I could just eat it and forgo the turkey! Good luck with the pears… I would offer suggestions, but have never poached pears!

  5. Bunny says

    I can’t wait to see the salad it sounds so darn good and what a lovely dish for Thanksgiving. I have the same problem with things I try to fry, it’s either not hot enough or too hot, this is the reason I haven’t tried making yeast doughnuts yet! Put I got an electric fryer so I could. I’ve never seen raw pecans at the store but I’m going to be looking for them as I want to make this salad!

  6. katie says

    Those look delicious! I bet they are perfect on a salad with the endive and blue cheese. I can’t wait for the final recipe, I love this salad combination but have never tried making it at home.

  7. ttfn300 says

    wow, those look fantastic… are you packaging them up and sending as gifts? haha :)

    ps- i have tried a goat cheese cheesecake!! loved it. peabody’s got one on her site, but i can’t remember right now what i used :)

  8. Matt says

    These look delicious. By the way, I have just discovered your blog. After reading your profile, I want to let you know how much I admire the stand you’ve taken on the food you choose to purchase and eat. I agree with everything you say!

  9. RecipeGirl says

    Amazing salad ideas you have there! I am so totally in love with your idea of candied pecans. I’m so totally afraid to deep fry them though! I just know I would screw up that part!!!

    Can’t wait to see how your salad turns out :)

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