Don't misunderstand San Francisco chef Melissa Perello's trajectory from haute cuisine to home-style cooking. At her snug new restaurant, Frances, Perello is serving the kind of food she adores: comforting dishes cooked with the Bay Area's finest ingredients. But the accessibility of Perello's food belies an obsession with precise technique. That same talent clearly runs in her family; indeed, Perello plucked this glossy peanut brittle straight from the recipe box of her restaurant's namesake, Grandma Frankie. File this recipe away (via your new Tasting Table To-Dos list) to make and give as a holiday gift.
Grandma Frankie's Peanut Brittle
Recipe adapted from Melissa Perello, Frances, San Francisco
Yield: 1 ¾ pounds brittle (8 cups)
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
½ cup cold water
2 cups raw peanuts
1 teaspoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon baking soda
1. In a large saucepan over high heat, combine the sugar, corn syrup and water. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to medium-high. Cook undisturbed until a candy thermometer registers 260˚, about 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the peanuts. Wait 5 seconds, then give the mixture a brief stir. Continue cooking, swirling the saucepan occasionally to prevent scorching, until the mixture turns deep golden brown, about 3 minutes.
2. Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the butter and vanilla. Add the baking soda (the mixture will foam) and stir until incorporated.
3. Pour the peanut mixture onto a rimmed baking sheet lined with a silicone mat or parchment paper, and spread into an even layer. Let the brittle stand until cool and hard, about 25 minutes. Break the peanut brittle into pieces and store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a month.