Food & Drink

Party Snack: Arkansas Trail Mix

Local ingredients plus savory cheese straws equal one addictive nosh

photo: Johnny Autry


Nothing against a bowlful of pretzels, but today’s elevated cocktails deserve a slightly more inspired culinary partner. Matthew McClure, head chef of the Hive restaurant and bar in Bentonville, Arkansas, agrees. A throwback to a time when bar snacks merited the same considered panache as the drinks they cushioned, his Arkansas Trail Mix combines house-made cheese straws with a slew of local add-ins: candied black walnuts and pecans, and flash-fried soybeans and black-eyed peas. “Creating the recipe was a very thoughtful and methodical process,” McClure says. “I wanted to give people a snack that told the story of Arkansas.” Mix up a batch his way, or build a custom blend using McClure’s cheese straws as a base and layering in your own native ingredients on top. Either way, you’ll come up with a snack that satisfies well beyond the bar.


Ingredients

  • Arkansas Trail Mix Components

    • Crunchy Black-Eyed Peas

    • Candied Pecans

    • Candied Black Walnuts

    • Crunchy Soybeans

    • Cheese Straws

  • Crunchy Black-Eyed Peas

    • 1/2 cup dried black-eyed peas (soak in water until hydrated)

    • 1 carrot, peeled and cut into thirds

    • 1/2 yellow onion, cut into thirds

    • 1 stalk celery, cut into thirds

    • Kosher salt

    • Lemon zest

    • Smoked paprika

  • Candied Spiced Pecans

    • 1 1/2 quart heavy syrup

    • 3 cups raw, shelled pecans

    • Cayenne pepper (to taste but this gets hot fast)

    • Kosher salt

  • Candied Black Walnuts

    • 1 1/2 quart heavy syrup

    • 3 cups raw, shelled black walnuts

    • Kosher salt

  • Crunchy Soybeans

    • 1 cup of dried soybeans

    • 2 quarts water

    • Paprika

    • Kosher salt

    • Lemon zest

  • Cheese Straws

    • 8 oz. shredded sharp cheddar cheese, room temperature

    • 1/4 cup softened butter

    • 1 cup all-purpose flour

    • 1/2 tsp. salt

    • 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper


Preparation

  1. For the trail mix:

    Toss all items together in a large bowl.

  2. For the Crunchy Black-Eyed Peas:

    Cook peas covered in water with celery, carrots, and onions until tender; cool in liquid, then strain.

  3. Heat vegetable oil to 325 degrees, and fry peas until crispy.

  4. Toss the peas with salt, lemon zest, and paprika, and cool in a single layer on a baking sheet.

  5. For the Candied Spiced Pecans:

    In a medium saucepan, bring heavy syrup to boil with pecans. Reduce heat and simmer gently for 30-45 minutes. Strain syrup and allow the pecans to cool for about 5 minutes.

  6. Heat vegetable oil to 325 degrees and fry pecans until they just start to toast.

  7. Remove and toss with kosher salt and cayenne pepper, then spread in a single layer on a baking sheet, giving them a gentle shake every few minutes to prevent sticking.

  8. For the Candied Black Walnuts:

    In a medium saucepan, bring heavy syrup to boil with walnuts. Reduce heat and simmer gently for 30-45 minutes. Strain syrup and allow the walnuts to cool for about 5 minutes.

  9. Heat vegetable oil to 325 degrees and fry walnuts until they just start to toast.

  10. Remove and toss with kosher salt, then spread in a single layer on a baking sheet, giving them a gentle shake every few minutes to prevent sticking.

  11. For the Crunchy Soybeans:

    Soak soybeans in cold water overnight. Strain excess water from the soybeans and let beans dry for 3-5 minutes.

  12. Heat vegetable oil to 325 degrees, and fry soybeans for about 5 minutes, or until the beans begin to toast.

  13. Toss soybeans with salt and lemon zest, and cool.

  14. For the Cheese Straws:

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  15. Combine cheese and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat on medium with a paddle attachment until thoroughly blended. In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt, and cayenne, and whisk together. Slowly add the flour mixture to the butter and cheese, and continue to beat until no longer crumbly.

  16. Roll the dough to ¼-inch thickness, then cut into ½-inch by 4½-inch straws. Place straws 1 inch apart on a parchment-covered tray. Bake for 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely.

Recipe from chef Matthew McClure of Hive restaurant and bar in Bentonville, Arkansas


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