If you have fresh, high-quality pecans, you'll want them to be the highlight of any preparation. Many hounds recommend toasting them first, to bring out their nutty flavor and give them a delightful crispiness. Spiced nuts, savory or sweet, are a favorite gift and party nibble. Try CHOW's Spiced Candied Pecans.
mountaincachers makes butter-pecan ice cream: Melt 4 tablespoons butter over low heat, and add 1 cup pecan pieces and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Cook until the pecans turn golden, then strain off the butter (which you can save and use for another recipe). Add to your favorite vanilla ice cream recipe. "Way, way better than anything commercially available," says mountaincachers.
You can take things in a savory direction by using pecans to crust meat. mamachef likes to marinate chicken breasts in buttermilk, then roll in a mixture of pecans and panko, brown, and finish in the oven. Veggo favors pecan-crusted white fish. "Sub pecans for pine nuts to make an excellent pesto," recommends Perilagu Khan.
If your pecans are in the shell, "whatever you do, don't throw away the hulls, one of the best things to use for smoking/grilling," says mrbigshotno.1. gordeaux has a special holiday recommendation: "Get a bowl of pecans, and as you are cracking them and eating them, with each bite of pecan that you get—eat a tiny piece of a standard peppermint candy cane."