I’ve been wanting to do a post about Hickory Nuts ever since my husband brought a bag of them home (to Los Angeles) after he had visited his hometown in Tennessee. That was over 2 years ago! Now we’re living in Tennessee and have 18 Hickory trees on our property ~ which means LOTS of hickory nuts!!
The problem with Hickory Nuts is that they are very hard to open and even harder to pick the nut out, well, nearly impossible. But we figured out a super easy way to take advantage of the free hickory nuts on our property, and get the incredible rich flavor of the hickory nuts that you can use in so many delicious ways!
We remove the outer shell and wash the nuts thoroughly.
We collected a giant bag full of hickory nuts!
My husband smashed the nuts against a board, using a heavy hammer, inside a cardboard box. He did it that way because when you smash them they tend to go flying.
Then I take over… I get my largest pot and fill it 3/4 of the way with the nuts, shell and all. Add water to cover the nuts and turn them on medium high. When they come to a boil, turn the heat to medium, place a lid on top, and allow them to cook for 4 to 5 hours, stirring every so often (adding more water, if needed).
What you end up with is the most incredible nut broth. The flavor is delicious. It kinda tastes like a rich caramel. The nuts basically cook out of the shells and break down in the cooking process. Pour it all through a strainer, and discard the shells.
Then I started to experiment around with what I could make. I made savory risotto using the nut broth. Just follow the basic instruction for making risotto, substituting the hickory nut broth for the water. Rich, nutty and decadent… the flavor was out of this world!!
The next day I decided to make some cupcakes, using the broth in both the cake and the icing. Again, the flavor was wonderful. It’s like nothing else that I’ve ever tasted. You could use your favorite white or yellow cake recipe and substitute the hickory nut broth wherever liquid is called for.
Another dish that I made using the broth was wild rice, with glazed scallops, and I made a Hickory Nut Bourbon Sauce to serve with it. I cooked the wild rice in the hickory nut broth and it gave the rice an even nuttier, richer flavor. The scallops were sauteed over medium high heat in 2 tablespoons of butter, for a total of about 5 minutes. The Bourbon Hickory Nut Sauce that I made to go with this dish was really good. The recipe is below this picture.
Here’s the recipe for the sauce that I made for the scallops… which I prepared in the scallop pan (important because it gave the sauce more flavor).
This recipe makes enough for 2 people, or 12 scallops. The recipe can be easily doubled.
Simple Bourbon Sauce with Hickory Nut Milk
4 Tbsp Butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup Hickory Nut Broth
2 Tbsp Bourbon
Pinch of Salt
After you have sauteed your scallops to perfection, remove them from the pan and set aside.
Add the 4 tablespoons of butter, hickory nut broth, bourbon and salt.
Whisk together and cook for about 3 minutes, on low until the mixture starts to bubble and thicken.
Add your scallops back into the pan to coat them.
Serve scallops over rice, with a drizzle of the bourbon sauce around the plate.