CRISPY CHICKPEAS

You know how one day you mysteriously start receiving email from a source where you never asked to go on the list?  This happens frequently and can be so annoying but occasionally you receive something that really makes you happy.  This is the case of this recipe by Jason Travi that I was sent by Food & Wine.  How did I get on their list?  Who knows but when I saw the photo of the crispy chick peas, I just knew I was going to have to try them, and try I did! 

First of all, I must preface with the statement that I love chick peas, also called garbanzo beans and by Italians, ceci, which is what I grew up calling them.  As kids we ate them in salads mostly but they also laced the antipasto platter and were served in soups like minestrone.  Never in hummus or couscous, I must say, as I often use them today.  They are, if you are not familiar, a round, irregular shaped, buff-colored legume slightly larger than the average pea.  They have a firm texture and nut like flavor which is what I love about them.  They are available canned, dried and in some areas fresh.  Truth be told, I have been known to open a can (always drain and rinse canned beans) and eat the whole thing as a snack.  OINK!

This is a recipe that is easy to prepare and makes a delicious snack food or appetizer.  This is how it goes down.

Recipe                                             Serves 8

3 c vegetable oil for frying (I used peanut oil for its high smoke point)

3  15-ounce cans chickpeas-drained, rinsed and patted dry ( make sure they are really dry so they don’t pop in the oil)

1 1/2 T ground coriander

1T ground cumin

1t cayenne pepper, or to taste (this was my addition as we like a little heat but it is optional for sure)

1c all-purpose flour

Sea salt

  1. In a large saucepan, heat the oil to 350 degrees.  I used a small electric fryer I have which I think makes this step  a bit easier as it maintains the heat but top of the stove would work well.  Always watch hot oil but do not be afraid it is quite easy.  A thermometer to gauge the temperature is essential.
  2. Line a baking sheet with paper towels.
  3. In a medium bowl, toss the chickpeas with the coriander, cumin and cayenne (if using).
  4. Add the flour and toss until the chickpeas are coated evenly.  Transfer to a sieve and shake off the excess flour.
  5. Add one-third of the chickpeas at a time to the hot oil and fry, stirring occasionally, until they are browned and crispy, about 8 minutes (I cooked mine for 10 minutes).
  6. Using a slotted spoon or spider, transfer the chickpeas to the paper towels to drain and sprinkle liberally with salt.
  7. Let the vegetable oil return to 350 degrees between batches and finish frying the remaining chickpeas.
  8. Allow to cool and transfer them to a bowl and serve.

Make ahead:  The fried chickpeas can be kept at room temperature for up to 4-6 hours.  I tried keeping them overnight in an airtight container but must say they lose their crispness a bit so I wouldn’t suggest it.

These are an addictive snack for sure.  They are perfect for a cocktail party in place of nuts or just to have around.  I will be making them again as they were nutty, salty, a bit spicy and down right delicious.  The night I made them a friend stopped by and we munched on them while drinking a glass of red wine or two.  A couple dropped on the floor and the dogs gobbled them quickly but I wouldn’t recommend them for canines.  When my husband came home he loved them as well so all in all they were a big hit!  Chef Jeff Travi, who authored this recipe, says he loves popping them while watching football.  The staff at Food & Wine have claimed them as a staff favorite because they are fast, make ahead and vegetarian.

Try them and let me know your spin.  I added the cayenne but you could add what you like.  I was thinking you could make them on the sweeter side with cinnamon and dust with sugar instead of salt if your palate goes in that direction.  Would love to hear from you!

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