Oven-Baked Chex Mix
For me, two things epitomize holiday leisure time: a stack of jigsaw puzzles and a bowl of buttery, seasoned Chex Mix (paired with an adult beverage, naturally). The classic mix of cereal, salty snacks, and nuts can be made before the madness sets in, and stored in an airtight container for several weeks. The secret to the best Chex Mix is baking the mixture in a low oven until all the components achieve a deeply toasted flavor. Adding smoked nuts to the mix significantly deepens the flavor, but you can use roasted salted nuts instead. The Usual seasoning was made for this snacky mix, but feel free to swap in your favorite Fire & Smoke Society blend.
Oven-Baked Chex Mix
Feel free to make this mix your own by swapping in your favorite salty snacks. As a guide, just follow this basic formula: 9 cups cereal (Chex or any savory variety) + 1½ cups nuts (salted roasted peanuts, pecans, almonds, cashews) + 5 cups add-ins (such as pretzels, bagel chips, or crackers).
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons The Usual seasoning
4 ½ cups Rice or Corn Chex cereal
4 ½ cups Wheat Chex cereal
3 cups bite-sized pretzels
2 cups Cheez-Its
1 cup smoked pecans (see note)
½ cup smoked almonds (see note)
Heat the oven to 250°F. Arrange 2 racks to divide the oven into thirds and heat the oven to 250°F. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
Make the seasoned butter: Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Add the Worcestershire sauce and The Usual seasoning and whisk to combine.
Combine the cereal, pretzels, Cheez-Its and nuts in a large bowl and lightly toss to combine. Pour half of the butter mixture over the Chex mixture and gently toss to coat. Pour in the remaining butter mixture and gently toss again so all the pieces are coated in butter.
Divide the mixture between the prepared baking sheets and spread into an even layer. Bake, stirring every 15 minutes, until lightly browned and crisp, 40 to 45 minutes total. Let cool for 10 minutes on the baking sheets before serving.
Place the nuts in disposable aluminum containers. Build a medium-high fire and prepare your grill for two-zone cooking. When the coals are glowing red and covered with a fine gray ash, place a drip pan of water on the side of the grill with no coals. Add a couple chunks of hardwood to the periphery of the coals and vent your grill for smoking. When the fire produces a steady stream of smoke, place the nuts over indirect heat, close grill, and smoke for 10 minutes. Stir the nuts and rotate the containers, as needed, and smoke for another 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool.