Area broadcaster Chris Collins shares his popular Chex Mix recipe

  • Area broadcaster and political columnist Chris Collins has come up with his own version of the Chex Mix snack. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Chris Collins takes us through the first step of his fan favorite Chex mix, distributing a variety of cereal, nut and pretzels to a sheet pan before cooking the sauce. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Chris Collins suggests sticking to these ingredients, especially these brands, to having the best version of homemade Chex mix. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Before placing his Chex mix in the oven, Chris Collins douces the dry ingredients with his homemade sauce. Using a turkey baster is the best way to ensure the sauce is distributed equally. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Collins stirs the dry items in his Chex mix using his hands. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Chris Collins gets ready to pour his homeade sauce over his Chex mix before plopping it into the oven. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Chris Collins’ Chex mix is ready to go in the oven after the sauce has been applied. One its done cooking, Chris instructs to transfer mixture to another cool sheet pan. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Collins says the secret to his fan favorite mix is in the details — sticking to the same brands and never boiling the sauce. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Chris Collins keeps an eye on the sauce for his Chex mix, making sure it doesn’t boil. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Chris Collins prepares his recipe for Chex mix in Greenfield. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Chris Collins prepares his recipe for Chex mix in Greenfield. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Collins uses a turkey baster to distribute his homemade sauce over the dry mixture before baking. . RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

For the Gazette
Saturday, February 03, 2018

Chris Collins, a broadcaster and political columnist in Franklin County, has a culinary specialty that he’s willing to share, a snack you can add to the munchie table at your Super Bowl gathering Sunday.

His version of the popular Chex Mix has been in demand in his circle for years, he says.

“I make it for family and friends and for my wife, Barb’s office parties. It’s usually a fan favorite and it seems to disappear rather fast.”

The party mix was introduced by the makers of Chex cereal, Ralston Purina, in 1952 when recipes started appearing on the back of the Chex cereal boxes. Later, General Mills began packaging a pre-made mix as a snack.

But Collins prefers his own.

“My mother used to buy and serve the bagged Chex Mix all the time. I was never really a big fan. It was too dry and it had too many things in it.”

Traditionally the mix includes two to three types of Chex cereal and nuts, pretzels, chips and other cereals or snack foods along with a coating of a butter mixture.

After sampling other versions at bars and parties, Collins decided to try to make it himself.

He kept it simple. “There are really only five ingredients, but it’s the type of peanuts and the type of pretzels I use that make it good, along with the sauce,” he says. “It’s really a less is more” kind of recipe and the easiest thing you’ll ever do.”

Collins tries to keep his mixes consistent, but there are inevitable variations from batch to batch depending on how long it’s cooked or small differences in the quantities of the ingredients.

Collins uses just two kinds of Chex cereal — rice and corn. “I don’t like to use the wheat variety because it makes it too heavy and dry,” he says. He uses honey roasted peanuts instead of dry roasted peanuts because they give what he considers just the right amount of sweetness along with a bit of caramelized sugar from the heating. “If you’re allergic to peanuts, you can leave them out and substitute with a bit of brown sugar in the sauce mix,” he says. Cheddar Goldfish go into the mix, as well as plain butter snap pretzels. For the sauce he uses margarine, not butter, seasoning salt and Worcestershire sauce.

Collins is a stickler for specific brands: “The peanuts must be Planters, the pretzels have to be Snyder’s butter snap pretzels, the seasoning salt must be Lowry’s. I don’t know what’s in it, but it’s the best I’ve used,” he says. “The ‘butter’ should be Land O’ Lakes margarine and then Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce.”

Collins uses a turkey baster to distribute the sauce evenly over the batch. “The first time I did this, I used a measuring cup and basically dumped all the sauce in one spot. Not recommended.”

Collins uses margarine instead of butter, he says, because the butter is too oily and has a tendency to burn when cooking the sauce. “That’s another thing,” he says. “The sauce should be heated up slowly on a low heat on the stove to a color that looks a bit like black coffee. Do not ever boil the sauce.”

In anticipation of Sunday’s game between the Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles Sunday, Collins does have a Super Bowl prediction: “I predict that if you make this Chex mix for game day, your friends and family will love it.”

In the event you want to branch out from Collins’ recipe but are reluctant to try your own version, the Chex website, www.chex.com, gives a great many variations for all occasions, from one with marshmallows and M&Ms for a kids’ party to a honey sriracha concoction using the Asian hot sauce and popcorn, to one made with coconut oil, for a “healthy” version.

Following is Collins’ mix.

Chris CollinsChex Mix

2 rimmed sheet pans, 12-by-19 inches

1 sauce pan

1 spatula

For the mix:

4½ cups Corn Chex

4½ cups Rice Chex

Honey roasted peanuts, to taste

Cheddar Goldfish, to taste

Snap pretzels, to taste

For the sauce:

One stick of margarine (8 tablespoons). Note: It’s one stick per batch.

4 to 5 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon of Lowry’s Seasoning Salt. Note: Alter the amounts for a less salty version.

4 to 5 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

Preheat the oven to 225 degrees. One by one, starting with the Chex cereal, spread the ingredients onto a rimmed sheet pan. Give the mix a good toss with your hands or use a spatula to mix them ingredients up.

The Sauce

Put all sauce ingredients in a small saucepan on the stove on a low heat. Let the margarine melt and stir the ingredients a couple of times. Make sure that all the margarine is melted and does not boil.

When the sauce is ready, distribute it evenly over the dry mix using the turkey baster. Give it a toss every so often, using a spatula, to get all the pieces coated.

Place the sheet pan in the preheated oven on a middle rack for 13 minutes. When done, remove from the oven and test for crispiness. If more is needed, return the pan to the oven for two to three minutes. When done, remove from the oven and let the mix cool by pouring it onto a second sheet pan lined with parchment paper or paper towels. Parchment paper works best as the honey roasted peanuts tend to stick to the paper towels as they cool.

Store the mix in an airtight container or bag.

Chris Collins is the general manager/executive director of Frontier Community Access Television, sports broadcaster for Bear Country and WHAI; and political columnist for The Recorder.