I got the idea for this from the Wheatsheaf in Combe Hay, which is one of the last remaining country pubs within walking distance of my house. It probably isn’t in any danger of closing, as it’s the only pub I’ve ever been to where customers arrive via helicopter and brag shamelessly about what a down-to-earth chap Eric is (“Clapton, yah, lovely fellow”). The food is tremendously posh, the beer surprisingly cheap, and although it’s packed with restaurant tables inside, you can sit outside and enjoy the view from their lovely garden while getting buffeted by some rich bugger’s chopper.
A couple of weeks ago they had a bowl of peanuts like these on the bar and I was most impressed.
200g blanched unsalted peanuts
4 tsp Chinese five spice powder
3 tsp sea salt flakes, crushed into dust
a pinch of caster sugar
Put the peanuts, spice, salt and sugar in a bowl. Add a splash of oil, stir it all up with your hands, and keep adding more oil until it’s moist enough to coat the peanuts evenly with the spice mix. You don’t want it to be dripping with oil but you don’t want the flavouring to just fall off the nuts either. If you happen to have a tin of ‘gourmet powder’ (aka monosodium glutamate) sitting around, add a couple of teaspoons of that, too. Don’t tell anyone.
Spread the nuts in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast in the oven at 160C for about 10 minutes, until they’re nicely browned. Keep an eye on them, as they’ll go from slightly underdone to hideously burned in the blink of an eye.