Nuts and bolts, or Chex Party Mix done right
Every family has its Christmas traditions – Rice Crispy treats with red and green sprinkles, Aunt Edna’s fruitcake, sugar cookies shaped like Santa, hot whiskey to take the edge off Christmas morning, festive drives up to Sing Sing to
smuggle bring Uncle Mike some holiday cheer, what have you. In my family, Christmas just ain’t Christmas without Grandma Pierce’s nuts and bolts, a riff on Chex Party Mix that takes cocktail snacks to a whole other level.
I have served this at every holiday party I have ever thrown and, let me tell you, it is a proven winner, a real crowd pleaser. Why? It’s crunchy, salty and spicy, which guarantees your party guests will stay good and thirsty and that, my friends, is the key to party success.
A word of warning: there is no Worcestershire sauce in this recipe. Don’t even consider adding it. You do not need it. Every year my sister and I make this, and every year we get recipe requests. No one has ever taken a nibble and said, “It’s OK, but it could really use some Worcestershire.”
So for the greater good, and in fond tribute to Grandma, who first laid it on us, here it is.
Nuts and Bolts
You know that big black roasting pan I strongly suggested you buy for roasting a chicken? Go find it.
Set the oven to 250 degrees. (If you’re using one of those disposable aluminum roasters or a silver colored pot, crank it up to 300.)
Into the roasting pan (or the biggest baking dish or mixing bowl you have), dump and combine:
- 3 C Corn Chex
- 3 C Rice Chex
- 3 C Wheat Chex
- 1 C Cheerios
- 1 C mixed nuts or peanuts if you prefer (salted if you like lots of salt, unsalted if you’re watching your blood pressure, and really, who isn’t?)
- 1 C pretzel sticks (see above re salt)
Now, if you have a strong preference for one or another of these you can alter the proportions – more nuts, less cereal, whatever – so long as you come up with 12 cups of stuff. I usually add more Cheerios, because they’re my favorite part, and reduce the Wheat Chex, but you do as you like.
Drizzle the cereal/nut/pretzel mixture with 6 T melted butter (again, salted or un- depending on your preference or priorities). Toss to coat.
- 1 T Beau Monde seasoning (An absolute MUST. If you don’t have it, you can fake it, but only in an emergency.)
- 1 t dried marjoram
- 1 t summer savory
- 1 T hickory smoked salt (I never have this and always just use plain old salt, but if you want to be authentic, use the smoky stuff.)
- ½ t garlic powder
- ½ t onion powder
- a pinch of cayenne pepper (to taste)
Spread the mix in the roasting pan if it’s not there already. If you have more than a couple inches of party mix in the pan, you’ll need to cook it in batches, but don’t panic. It doesn’t take long.
Bake for 10 minutes.
Bake for 10-15 minutes more.
Cool completely and store in airtight containers. Owing to the huge amount of salt, this stuff keeps forever, though you absolutely can freeze it if you like.