Peanut Gallery Transcript

The Bedroom

GUEST: Ghost of George Washington Carver

[AB is asleep, books on his night stand are, "Day of the Peanut" and "Fresh Roasted Peanuts", a book about George Washington Carver and his ole with the peanut, the title is unreadable, the clock reads 3:26 am]

GEORGE WASHINGTON CARVER: [floats in with peanut "chains" around his body a la Jacob Marley in A Christmas Carol] Alton Brown! Alton Brown! Alton Brown!
AB: [he doesn't wake up]
GWC: [frustrated] HEY BROWN?
AB: [startled] Ahh! Who are you? What do you want? [looking at the picture on the book] Wait! George Washington Carver?
GWC: You’ve been shirking your duty, Mr. Brown. Here we are in Georgia, the peanut Mecca of this great land, and you haven’t given the goober the time of day? For shame, Mr. Brown, for shame.
AB: Well, I’ve been busy on other projects. I mean, there’s ...
GWC: What? Another potato show? Bah! That tuber can’t hold a candle to the nutritional, culinary, and historical significance of this nut. Which, by the way, saved Southern farming.
AB: You know, technically speaking, it’s a legume, not a nut.
GWC: Oh, you’re smart. You think you can teach George Washington Carver about peanuts.
AB: You know what? I’m not even going to have this conversation. You’re dead. There’s no such thing as ghosts, which means this whole thing is a dream. Although the Dickens-ian peanut chain; that’s a good idea. Now I’m going back to sleep. Night night! [rolls over]
GWC: Fine. If that’s the way you want to play, then that’s the way we’ll play. [laughs and fades away]

    [later, the clock now reads 6:44 am, AB wakes up] Oh, what a dream. Peanuts. Heh heh. Eh, maybe it is time to do a peanut show. I mean, after all, they’re historically significant, culturally relevant, and culinarily versatile. Not to mention, seriously ... [as in the horse head scene from “The Godfather”, AB pulls the covers back to reveal he is covered in peanuts, he screams over and over]

[“Good Eats” theme plays]

The Kitchen

    Say hello to the peanut plant. Notice anything missing? Peanuts, you say? Well, somewhere along the line, this legume developed a curious defense against marauding critters. You see, after the flowers fertilize above ground, they droop down, and push themselves into the soil, where their fruit, the peanut, matures in safety. [pulls up the plants to reveal the legume] See?
    Now these peanuts are probably about 80 days old. And they’ll be ready for harvest when they hit about 135. By the way, today, America ranks third in global peanut production, behind China and India. But while those countries grow most of their peanuts for oil, ours are primarily for munching.

Baseball Stadium

GUESTS: Baseball Fans
                   Peanut Man

AB: [he is sitting in the stands trying to buy some peanuts] Hey, peanut man! Peanut man! Up here, you ...

    You know, the mass consumption of peanuts in this country really started with soldiers on both sides of the ... 

AB & THE CROWD: [everyone cheers]

...  both sides of the conflict during the Civil War. But the association between peanuts and public spectacles, well, that was P.T. Barnum’s doing. He was selling roasted peanuts at his circus as early as the 1870’s. The jump to the national pastime, pretty much a no-brainer. And by the, uh, by the, ...

AB & THE CROWD: [everyone expresses disappointment]

... by the 1920’s, more peanuts were being sold in ballparks then they were in grocery stores.

AB: Peanut man! Peanut man! Hey!
PEANUT MAN: [almost overthrows AB a bag of peanuts]
AB: Hey, what’s the big deal ...
PM: [enters with a foam peanut on his head]
AB: [sees that Peanut Man is really George Washington Carver] Oh, it’s you.
GWC: Six dollars, if you please.
AB: Six dollars! Are you serious?
GWC: Hey, it’s not my fault if the peanut is the most popular flavor on the planet.
AB: Actually, I think it is your fault.
GWC: Oh, yeah. You’re right. [laughs] If it hadn’t been for my pamphlet, “How to Grow the Peanut and 105 Ways of Preparing it for Human Consumption”—published in 1925 and still in print today—there wouldn’t be any peanuts to sell at the old ball game.

    Well, I hate to admit it, but he’s right. See, in 1910 boll weevils wiped out the cotton crop in the south and a lot of farmers were going to go under. Mr. Carver here suggested peanuts, and pretty much saved the day, and changed history. Then, later, from his lab at The Tuskegee Institute, he invented hundreds of uses for the peanut, including, ...

AB: [to GWC] ... what was that? Peanut milk and peanut shampoo, right?
GWC: Not to mention peanut flakes, peanut sausage, peanut orange punch, chili sauce, mock chicken, mock goose, mock oyster, shampoo, face cream, hand lotion, peanut beverage, peanut surprise—oh, that, that’s a good one—thirty kinds of cloth dyes ...
FAN: Hey, Peanut Man! Up here!
GWC: Hey, alright already! Keep your pants on!

    Great salesman, huh? [smells his bag of peanuts] Um, can you smell that? Me either. You know why? It’s because the roasty toasty goodness that we associate with peanuts dissipates very quickly. That’s why they call them “volatile compounds”. Luckily, we can take matters into our own hands and it won’t cost us six bucks a bag.

Whole Foods Market
Atlanta, GA – 10:15 am

    The peanut family is extremely diverse on kind of a global scale. But here in The United States, four varieties dominate the marketplace.
    Here we have the Valencias, which are not very large. They come anywhere from, like, two to five nuts in a shell. Their paper clings very, very heartily to the nut making them not so popular with roasters. When I can find them—which isn’t often—I like to bake with them. I’ll just, keep this one. They won’t mind.
    Oh, look at these guys. There are the Spanish peanuts. Look how tiny they are. These are, like, the smallest of all peanuts. But, ironically, they have the highest oil content, and that is something that we plan on taking advantage of very shortly.
    Now, for processors, the Runner peanut, which is grown a lot here in Georgia, are very very popular because of their yields and their specific fat composition. If you bite into a candy bar with a peanut in it, odds are that peanut is a Runner peanut.
    Now here, the peanut that we think of when we think of peanuts, the Virginia peanut. These are pretty much huge, gigantic peanuts. These are what you get at the ball park, especially if you are lucky, and they are fantastic for roasting.
    Now when shopping for raw shell peanuts, you really only have the shell to go by. You want to find something that is nice and firm, hard, no cracks, no black moldy spots, and as little dust as possible. [holding up a sample] I’d say that’s just about the perfect peanut.
    Now for my purposes, I’d say, take all these [grabs a huge display basket of peanuts], and all of these. [picks up another basket, spilling peanuts as he does] Sorry. Clean up, aisle four.

The Kitchen

    If moved to an airtight containment unit, unshelled peanuts will hold their own in a cold, dark, dry place for up to a month. [tried to get the container of peanuts to fit in his crowded pantry] But if you hope on keeping them on hand any longer, you are going to need to put them into the refrigerator, or ...  [gives up] Oh heck, just go cook the things.

Goober derives from nguba, a name given to the plant by West Africans, brought to their continent by Portuguese traders.

The Kitchen

GUESTS: FDA Agent #1 and #2
                   The Lady Of The Refrigerator

    Although they are thoroughly cleaned at the processing plant, let us remember that peanuts grow in dirt. And odds are good that some of that dirt is going to stick to them on the way home. So, my first roasting step is a good bath. I have here two pounds of Virginia peanuts. If you can’t get hold of Virginias, Valencias would be okay too. 2 Pounds Raw In-Shell
    Now once they look clean, you want to move those to some paper towels to dry thoroughly. You don’t want to move forward until there is no surface moisture left. Then, you can go to the mixing bowl—and the bigger, the better, in this case—drizzle with two tablespoons of peanut oil and one to two tablespoons of kosher salt, depending on how salty you like them. There. Give that a toss, and then ... 2 Tbs. Peanut Oil
1-2 Tbs. Kosher Salt
    [now at the oven] ... evenly distribute your goobers in a single layer on two half-sheet pans and place in a 350 degree oven, thusly. Now, these will be perfectly roasted in 30 to 35 minutes, but halfway through the cooking process, you will have to rotate and spin the pans, meaning the top will go to the bottom, the bottom will go to the top, and the back of both pans to the back of the oven. You know what I mean? Nguh.

350° Degrees [sic, redundant]

    [now on the couch, eating the roasted peanuts, peanut shells cover the floor] Delicious. And you know what’s really groovy is that, if you eat them right, you’ll get the perfect amount of salt, kind of like with a margarita, right off the shell. See? Mmmm, perfect. You know, you could also turn these into peanut butter. Although if you really have peanut butter in mind, you might want to go with the oilier Spanish variety.

GWC: What’s so special about peanut butter?
AB: Oh, I don’t know. Maybe that half the peanuts that are grown in this country become peanut butter? Say, you didn’t invent peanut butter, did you? No, it was that doctor from Saint Louis. What was his name?
GWC: Bah! See, nobody knows. Some inventor he turned out to be.
AB: Well, it doesn’t really matter. Peanut butter didn’t hit the big time until a salesman, C.H. Sumner, sold it as health food at the 1904 World’s Fair.
GWC: Eh, salesmen. They always take the credit.
AB: Yeah, I hear you, brother.

    Hey, did you know that, in this country, peanut butter is ...

FDA AGENT #1: [both agents are now sitting at the table with GWC] ... required, by law, to contain at least 90% peanuts. In “natural peanut butter”, the remaining weight is composed of peanut oil, and in some cases, salt. Mass market brands also add sugar, stabilizers, and various additives to enhance shelf life and creaminess.
GWC: Who are you guys?

    As far as I’m concerned, homemade peanut butter smokes them both.

    And it’s easy to make. Just place 15 ounces of shelled and skinned, roasted Spanish peanuts in your food processor, along with one and a half teaspoons of honey, one teaspoon of kosher salt—a little more if you like yours salty—and clamp on the lid, and give that a spin, processing for one minute. Now it’s not going to become completely smooth. It’ll just kind of be clunky and clumpy, like clods of dirt. So break off the lid and break that up. It’ll become a lot more receptive for the oil that will shortly be coming. So we’re going to form kind of an emulsion. There, that’s good enough. Lid goes back on, and the machine goes back on. 15 Ounces Shelled, Skinned
    Roasted Peanuts
1½ tsp. Honey
1 tsp. Kosher Salt
    And now, in goes one and a half tablespoons of peanut oil. I like to use refined peanut oil because it is almost completely neutral in flavor. 1½ Tbs. Peanut Oil

    Now let this go for about one and a half to two minutes or until it is nice and smooth. How smooth? Well, pretty much, peanut butter smooth. Like that.

    [now at the refrigerator] Since it does not contain any preservatives, you want to keep your homemade peanut butter here in the refrigerator. Of course, peanuts contain a lot of fat. Fat absorbs flavors, so you also want to keep it tightly sealed.

AB: [hears noises from the back of the refrigerator] Huh! The Lady of the Refrigerator!
LADY OF THE REFRIGERATOR: Oh, Alton. They may be high in fat, but it’s primarily the healthy poly- and monounsaturated fatty acids, that can actually help lower cholesterol.
GWC: [enters behind AB, clears his throat conspicuously]
AB: Oh, um, sorry. Lady of the Refrigerator, the ghost of George Washington Carver.
LOTR: [offers her hand]
GWC: [kissing LOTR’s hand] Enchanté [tran: “I’m enchanted.”]
LOTR: Peanuts are also high in fiber, and potassium, and the B-vitamins riboflavin and folate, which has been shown to reduce the risk of heart attacks and some birth defects.
GWC: Eh, don’t forget protein.
LOTR: Oh, protein, of course. Peanuts are high in the amino acids lysine and isoleucine. But they lack in tryptophan, cystine, and methionine, so you really need to pair them with something like, um, wheat, to make a complete protein. [retreats back into the refrigerator]
AB: Well I, I guess that explains the peanut butter sandwich.
GWC: I invented that.
AB: You did not.
GWC: I did so.
AB: You did not invent that sandwich!
GWC: [as AB closes the refrigerator door] Yes I did ...

Two tablespoons of peanut butter provides over
10% of the US recommended daily intake of protein.

    I realize there’s nothing shockingly new about the marriage of chocolate and peanut butter. Heck, the Inca were working this one out a few thousand years ago. But I’d bet they never worked out Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie. Well, we have.

    Let us begin with six and a half ounces of off-the-shelf chocolate wafer-thin wafers. Add a tablespoon of sugar, and then clamp on the lid [of food processor] and take it for a spin. Let this run until even, fine crumbs have been achieved. 6½ Ounces Chocolate Wafers
1 Tbs. Sugar
    Now we’re going to switch over to pulsing and add three ounces of melted butter. Pulsing while the butter goes in will keep it from pooling on the bottom of the bowl. 3 Ounces Unsalted Butter,

    Okay, move your food processor off, and get yourself a nine-inch pie pan. Metal, please, in this case. We’ll need that conductivity. Now if you’ve ever made a graham cracker crust, this is going to be the same thing. Just get everything [from the processor] in and then start kind of smoothing this out into a disk, nice and thick, and then kind of turn the pan, and work it up the sides. You don’t have to get this all the way over the lip. But if you don’t get it up to the lip, then, when it goes into the oven, it’s just going to fall down into a pile on the bottom of the pan. And when it comes to working the corners, I like to use my knuckles. For some reason, the crumbs don’t seem to stick as badly to my knuckles as to my fingers. There. Doesn’t have to be perfect, but everything’s covered.

    [at the oven] Ten minutes at 350. Plenty of time for filling.

350° Degrees [sic, redundant]

Georgia and Alabama produce almost half of the US peanut crop each year.

The Kitchen

    Wash out your food processor bowl and let’s get to the filling. You’re going to need one batch, 15 and a half ounces, of your homemade peanut butter, along with two ounces of unsalted, room-temperature butter. Put on the lid, and buzz that up for one minute. No less. 1 Batch AB's Peanut Butter
2 Ounces Unsalted Butter,
    Room Temperature
    When that’s smooth, add three ounces of powdered sugar, plus one teaspoon vanilla extract. Process again, for one and a half minutes, or until very smooth. 3 Ounces Powdered Sugar
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract

    Okay, once your crust has cooled completely, carefully spread the mixture into the pie shell. Kind of gooey, so take your time. I like to work just kind of in one direction, spreading it from the middle. If you try to dab it all around, you’re going to end up with a mess. There.

    [back at the oven] Return this to your 350 degree hot box for ten minutes.

350° Degrees [sic, redundant]

    [later] Now, I know it doesn’t look very different, but it is, and it needs to cool for at least ten minutes before we apply the topping.

    Microwave one quarter cup, plus a tablespoon of heavy cream in your microwave, and then whisk in two ounces of good quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine. Just whisk it smoothly. It’ll take about a minute until it completely melts into what is now called “ganache”, which is very useful stuff indeed. ¼ Cup + 1 Tbs. Heavy Cream
2 Ounces Bittersweet
    Chocolate, Chopped

    [at the refrigerator] Once your pie is cooled to room temperature, apply the ganache and refrigerate an hour and a half to two hours. Now I realize, for some of you, this dish is never going to be good eats. I speak, of course, of the 11 million or so Americans out there, who are allergic to peanuts.

GWC: [enters] Allergic to peanuts? Inconceivable!
AB: Actually, there are allergists out there who believe that it’s because of overexposure. Perhaps you invented too many uses for the peanut.
GWC: Hmm. And to think I was just getting started. Uh, where’d that blue lady go? She was nice.
AB: [hurrying GWC off] She doesn’t like you. She doesn’t like you. She doesn’t want to talk to you.
GWC: I wanted to talk to her ...

Roadside Curb

    [at a roadside stand where he is selling boiled peanuts] Being a good Southern boy, I have always appreciated the flavor of boiled peanuts. And for one thing, they’re delicious. For another thing, well, peanuts open up a gateway to all kinds of culinary possibilities, like African peanut soup, for instance. Of course, the fact that boiled peanuts taste so different from roasted peanuts are just a testament to the goober’s versatility. Now here’s how I do it.


    I have two pounds of our Virginia, raw peanuts here. And I’m just going to do this in a mesh steamer insert. You could do it in something as simple as a pillowcase. Now we want to soak these for half an hour and give dirt an opportunity to get off of them. So I’m going to suspend that in a bucket of cool water. 2 Pounds Raw, In-Shell
    Now I’m going to give this about as much time as we need to heat this three gallons up, but not before I add three ounces, by weight, of kosher salt. There we go. And we’ll put the spurs to this. [turns on the burner] Carefully, of course. There. And set our clock. [he leans back in his Adirondack] 3 Gallons Water +
3 Ounces Kosher Salt

    [later] A half hour has passed, and we have attained boilage. Time to get these nuts in. So, we quickly drain and hopefully, most of the dirt will go down to the bottom of that bucket. And since these need plenty of room to cook, we’ll dump them straight in, and place, carefully the cover. Now these guys need to boil, nice and steady for four hours. And of course, we’re going to lose some moisture during that time. So have a pitcher of water standing by in case you need to rearm the pot, so to speak. There. That should be just enough time for some critical research work. [again, he reclines in his chair]
    When extracting your finished nuts, it’s always best to use something like a spider. You don’t want to try to pour all of that water into a colander. Now the secret to serving is to eat them while they are good and hot.

AB: There you go, G.W.C.
GWC: Ah, well, thank you. There’s nothing better than some good boiled peanuts.
AB: Nothing better.
GWC: Unless, of course, it’s a peanut colada [shows a drink]
AB: Wow, that looks, that looks really good.
GWC: Want me to whip one up for you?
AB: Well ...  No, no. I’ve, I’ve got cooking to do. Besides, you’re a specter from the netherworld.
GWC: You don’t know what you’re missing. Hmm.

In 1939, Carver received the Roosevelt Medal for
Outstanding Contribution to Southern Agriculture.

The Kitchen

    Here, now, a soup application which is a nice example of an African-style peanut cuisine.

    Pop a six-quart pot, at least, over medium-high heat and add eight slices of thick-cut bacon, which have been chopped, to the pan. Stir often for six to seven minutes or until the bacon is nicely browned and the fat has rendered out. There. Then remove the bacon from the pot and just let that drain. We will be returning to that later. 8 Slices Thick Cut Bacon,
    Now it looks like I’ve got about three tablespoons of fat left in the pan, which is going to be just enough to essentially sauté 14 ounces, or three cups of onions. And be sure to drop the heat to medium and let these cook until they start to brown around the edges. There. 14 Ounces Onion, Chopped
    Next, we invite six cups of chicken broth to the party, along with 22 ounces of shelled, boiled peanuts—that’s about four cups worth—and a tablespoon of freshly chopped thyme. I’m going to boost the heat to high, and bring it to a boil. And then reduce and hold at a simmer until the nuts begin to let go of their skins and the broth reduces by a quarter. Twenty to 25 minutes. 6 Cups Chicken Broth
22 Ounces Shelled, Boiled
1 Tbs. Fresh Thyme, Chopped

    Next, we kill the heat and apply the stick [blender]. Now there’s nothing that says you couldn’t do this in a standard blender, but I like to keep my soup a little on the chunky side. So, this is the right tool for the job. Just be careful not to splatter. It’s hot!

    [later] I’m going to drop my blender speed to low, and stir in three cups of 2% milk, followed immediately by four teaspoons of rice wine vinegar, one and a half teaspoons of kosher salt, or close to it, and a quarter teaspoon of white pepper. Return the soup to a simmer, and serve with a little bacon in the bottom of the bowl. Or a lot, depending on how you like it. 3 Cups 2% Milk
4 tsp. Rice Wine Vinegar
1½ tsp. Kosher Salt
¼ tsp. White Pepper

    [tasting the soup] Mmm. A wise man once said of the peanut, “I do not know of any one vegetable that has such a wide range of food possibilities, either raw or cooked.”

GWC: Ah, believe that was me.
AB: It was. And I have to say, I concur. The peanut is an edible marvel, full of boundless nutrition, and a flavor as enticing as anything on earth. Now, what is it you are working on over there?
GWC: [looking at an iPod type device encased in peanuts] This?
AB: Yeah.
GWC: Oh, this is a little something new I cooked up.
AB: Hmmm.
GWC: I call it an “iPeanut”. Not quite sure what it does, but, uh, I think it’s going to be big.
AB: [a bit sarcastically] I’m sure you’re right.
GWC: [GWC plugs in the “iPeanut” and starts to dance a little]

    See you next time, on Good Eats.

[closing credits]


To learn about the real George Washington Carver and his peanut prowess, drop by

Transcribed by Michael Roberts
Proofread by Michael Menninger

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Last Edited on 08/27/2010