Tuesday, October 30, 2007

seeds: pumpkin (roasted) redux

About this time last year I shared my world-famous Special Pumpkin Seed Roasting recipe with you. As I prepare to sink my hands into a goopy pile of pumpkin innards, I offer you once again the last pumpkin seed recipe you will ever need.

And unless you think I'm just re-posting because I can't think of anything new to say, this year I've made some small but cunning changes to the recipe, just to keep you on your toes and to (gasp) make it better.

Bob's Special Pumpkin Seed Roasting Process

  • Beer
  • Large steaming pile of pumpkin innards
  • Running water
  • Olive oil & Canola oil
  • Seasonings (I used Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning; Garlic Powder and Chili Flakes; Salt and Pepper)
  • Large pot
  • Kitchen towel
  • Oven, preferably convection
  • Flat rectangular cookie sheets
  • Tin foil
  • Wooden spoon
  • Oven mitt
  • Paper towels
  • Small paper (not plastic) bags

Open a beer. Start drinking it.

Deposit steaming pile of pumpkin innards into the large pot and put it in your sink under running water. Get your hands into the pile and squish it around - your goal is to separate seeds from innards as quickly as possible.

Pull out large stringy bits and discard. You won't catch every seed, so don't try. Do try to pull out little chunks of pumpkin flesh, as those will burn later if they make it into the oven with your seeds.

Once you'd separated all the guts from the seeds, lay out the seeds on the kitchen towels to let them dry off as much as possible. You can cover them with a second towel or paper towels to accelerate the drying process.

Enjoy some more beer as you pick out the stray bits of pumpkin guts, small knobbets of pumpkin flesh and the occasional ammo casing from among the drying seeds. Also pick out any seeds that look nasty - black spots on seeds are a sure sign of Something Bad.

While the seeds are drying, clean and dry the big pot from earlier and set the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit with the convection turned on if you have it.

When you're content that the seeds are as dry as you want them to be, put them back into the big pot and pour a healthy glug of olive oil and a healthy glug of canola oil into the pot. Use your hands to make sure that all of the seeds are coated. The combination of two oils will help your seeds stand up to higher temperatures without burning and will reduce the chance of off-flavors from burned olive oil.

Just be careful at this step - too little oil is preferable to too much oil.

Tear off enough aluminum foil to cover the bottom of your cookie sheet, then pour out a quantity of pumpkin seeds to form a single layer over the entire sheet.

Choose your seasonings, then sprinkle them liberally (to taste) over the seeds. Once you've covered them all, use your fingers or a spoon to mix them up and make sure that all of your seeds are covered, on both sides if possible. Again, watch how much seasoning you put on, especially if you're not quite sure how much heat or salt you want. Too-salty and too-spicy seeds are No Fun.

Slide the sheet into the oven, and check them at 15 minute intervals for "doneness" - this means eating a few. This is another excellent time to enjoy some beer.

When you can smell the seeds in the kitchen and they start to look dry, slightly blistered and a little brown, pull them out.

Lay out a double-thick layer of paper towel on a flat surface and transfer the seeds from the aluminum foil to the paper towel. The goal here is to soak up any stray oil and let the seeds cool before you put them in bags for storage. Note that you don't want to use plastic bags, as they will trap moisture and make your seeds soggy - and as you know, a soggy seed is a bad seed.

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