Pecans are a native American nut most famously featured at Thanksgiving in pecan pie. They also pair well in desserts featuring apples, chocolate, and other nuts. Pecans have a rich, sweet flavor and a tender, almost crumbly crunch. Their big size and meaty texture also make them the perfect nut for spiced nuts, and their delicious in green salads, tossed with green beans and butter.
4 oz. pecan halves (about 1 cup) = 3/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. coarsely chopped and 1 cup finely chopped or ground
Try subbing walnuts.
In the fall, you may find in-shell pecans in stores, but mostly you'll find shelled pecans, which are usually vacuum-packed in cans, jars, or cellophane bags to protect against humidity and oxidation. If you find pecans sold in bulk, make sure they're fresh, since they can become rancid if they've been sitting around in storage for too long. Taste one—if it's rancid, the nut will have an unpleasant, bitter flavor. A fresh pecan, on the other hand, will be faintly sweet and buttery. Look for plump ones that are uniform in color and size.
Pecans can be used right out of the shell or container, though they will have an even deeper flavor if toasted oven at 350°F for 8 to 10 minutes.
In-shell pecans can be stored in a cool, dry place for 6 to 12 months. An open package of shelled nuts should be resealed or transferred to an airtight container. They will keep for several weeks in the refrigerator or up to one year in the freezer. While this preserves freshness, refrigerated or frozen nuts can turn flabby in texture. Top bring back their crunch, toast them (even if a recipe doesn't call for toasting) in the oven at 350°F for 5 to 8 minutes.