I’m updating a few period recipes as I prepare for my Mad Men dinner this Sunday night— Chex Mix was my first project.
Check out the classic recipe. It calls for 3 cups each: Corn Chex, Wheat Chex, and Rice Chex. That’s a lot of Chex! If I owned a cereal company and were developing a recipe for my product, I’d call for all three cereals too. As a consumer I think two’s plenty. I recommend Corn Chex, the most flavorful of the cereals, with Wheat Chex for color and flavor contrast. Those looking for a gluten-free mix stick with Corn Chex and opt for Rice Chex.
In my early tests I stuck close to the original recipe but quickly made changes. The mix still felt Chex heavy, so in addition to calling for only two varieties, I also reduced the quantity from three cups to two. Instead of the usual peanuts, I called for almonds. Rather than pretzels, I subbed in coarsely broken bagel chips. The first batch was excessively salty. Since all of the ingredients are already sodium-rich, I eliminated salt-laden seasonings like garlic, celery, onion, as well as Worcestershire sauce.
I also wanted an interestingly flavored mix a la Union Square Bar Nuts, so I added minced garlic (the jarred kind you find in the spice section, not fresh) and minced fresh rosemary. Unfortunately the stirring process during the hour baking prevented the ingredients from adhering, and they fell to the bottom like old maids in a bag of popcorn.
So in the style of Union Square Bar Nuts, I roasted my ingredients without any butter or seasonings, which meant I could reduce the roasting time by more than half. As the mix emerged hot from the oven I quickly tossed it with melted butter flavored with fresh rosemary, garlic, sesame seeds, cayenne and a little brown sugar to help the flavorings stick.
I’ll be offering a variety of drinks this Sunday night, but I plan enjoy Chex Mix with Rosemary and Garlic with another period classic—whiskey sour!
Chex Mix with Rosemary and Garlic
Makes about 2 quarts
Toast sesame seeds in a small skillet over low heat until light golden, about 5 minutes.
2 cups each: Corn Chex, Wheat Chex, roasted, salted Almonds, and coarsely crushed bagel chips
4 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons each: minced, fresh rosemary, minced garlic (from the spice shelf) and toasted sesame seeds
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Adjust oven rack to lower middle position, heat oven to 300 degrees. Mix cereals, nuts, and bagel chips; spread on a large, rimmed baking sheet and bake until fragrant and deeper in color, about 25 minutes.
Meanwhile combine butter, rosemary, minced garlic, sesame seeds, sugar, and cayenne pepper in a small bowl.
Pour butter mixture over hot Chex mix in a large bowl; toss evenly to coat. Serve warm or at room temperature. (Can be stored in airtight container for several days.)