Eats Beat

It’s pecan season in Texas, so it’s time for pie. But the “plantation” is going away

A special pecan dessert at Rough Creek Lodge in Erath County.
A special pecan dessert at Rough Creek Lodge in Erath County. Handout photo

It’s pecan season in Texas, and that comes with some sad news.

The rest of what began as Leonard Farms’ pecan grove is up for sale, ending the 70-year history of what was once perhaps the nation’s largest source of pecans.

Much of the Leonard and Anthony families’ 70-year-old pecan operation is already redeveloped as Pecan Plantation in Hood County near Granbury. (An Anthony Orchards/Leonard Farm Pecans store continues in Cresson.)

It was O.P. Leonard of Fort Worth who envisioned planting Texas pecans as a successful commercial crop. Leonard Farms Pecans remain a holiday staple for Fort Worth families.

“Sometimes you can make more money with development than you can with pecans,” said George Ray MacEachern, Texas A&M professor and an expert on the crop.

“Whether they know it or not, everybody who’s in the pecan business is also in the real estate business.”

There’s no shortage of Texas pecans remaining from Leonard Farms or larger operators like Sorrells Farms in Comanche.

Sorrells provides pecans for farm-to-table restaurants like Rough Creek Lodge near Stephenville.

“We make so many things with the beautiful nut,” chef Gerard Thompson wrote in an online message.

“I love the fresh, buttery flavor of pecans. They’re great in so many recipes — I make a sourdough raisin-pecan bread every day.”

Recent dishes included a mixed green salad with candied pecans, along with desserts like a chocolate-pecan cookie or a flourless chocolate cake with bourbon ice cream and brown-sugar pecans.

I’ve always been surprised that DFW-area growers don’t promote pecan recipes in October the way peach grower promote peaches in July and August.

“If you take chopped pecans and put them on anything — a ribeye steak, a salad, anything — it will be better,” MacEachern said.

He makes his own pecan pralines.

Check for Rough Creek Lodge’s menu of pecan items daily; 5165 County Road 2013, 254-965-3700, roughcreek.com.

In Fort Worth, try the pecan pie Mondays at Carshon’s Deli, 3133 Cleburne Road, or most days at Black Rooster Bakery locations.

Columnist Bud Kennedy is a Fort Worth guy who covered high school football at 16 and has moved on to two Super Bowls, seven political conventions and 15 Texas Legislature sessions. Since 1985, he has also written more than 2,000 “Eats Beat” columns about Texas dining, restaurants and food.
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