Hope everyone enjoyed a nice and safe Thanksgiving and Christmas and you were able to do so surrounded by family, friends and loved ones. The holidays for many of us are synonymous with many things including good food and a lot of it. We all have are signature dishes, drinks and traditions, but one thing it means to me is… hushpuppies.
So what is a hush puppy do you ask? It is by many definitions and that of Wikipedia:
a savory, starch-based food made from cornmeal batter that is deep fried or baked in small ball or sphere shapes, or occasionally oblong shapes. Hushpuppies are frequently served as a side dish, usually at seafood restaurants.
I was raised in the South and where there are many southern delicacies (like any part of the country) including shrimp and grits (I’ll share this recipe later as well along with my secret ingredient), barbecue, catfish stew (see previous blog), a smorgasbord of seafood dishes and served with many of them… the hushpuppy.
What I’m about to tell you is a story ten years in the making… one of trial, error, frustration and finally “The Thrill of Victory preceded by the Agony of Defeat.” Wait – that’s the intro to ABC’s Wide World of Sports that I watched growing up. OK… it wasn’t so dramatic but it did take me over ten years to create the perfect hush puppy recipe.
You might ask what’s so hard about frying hushpuppies… more than you think. Much like making meatballs from scratch a frequent mistake is to overcook the outside and undercook the inside while creating a delectable treat that awakens the taste buds and leaves you wanting more. The first few years were pretty bad. My family was very patient and cordial as they attempted to eat the bricks I was serving… which were later used to build a fire pit. Haha!
Last year I purchased this handy dandy “quick-drop” hush puppy batter dropper to drop the them quickly into the oil rather than spooning them and even still they were not holding together they way I wanted. Then my twin brother and sister (shared credit given to both) decided to put the batter in ice cube trays in the freezer and it worked like a charm! I simply scooped them out with a spoon, they stayed to consistency in a nice oval shape and cooked to a nice golden brown… heaven on earth. So last year they were almost perfect and this year we plain and simply – nailed it! Not only are the hushpuppies soft… they even taste great cold.
When I prepare them I do not use any of the optional ingredients only because we have a lot of kids and they may not like them. However, when I cook in the kitchen whether it be shrimp and grits, catfish stew, fish tacos, etc. I do enjoy trying new ingredients all the time. That being said feel free to try my recipe many years in the making and hope you enjoy them.
Serving Size: 25 to 30 hushpuppies
*Double to make four ice cube trays full (64 hushpuppies).
1 1/2 cups Gold Medal unbleached
1/2 cup stone-ground yellow cornmeal
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 cup granulated sugar (then add to taste)
1 large egg
1-1/4 cups buttermilk (then add to taste)
vegetable oil, for frying
Optional Items to Add
2 cans of MINCED sweet kernel corn or creamed corn.
1/3 cup minced red onion
2 tsp onion powder
1/3 cup sweet onion
¼ cup orange marmalade
In a large bowl, whisk together onion, flour, cornmeal, corn kernels, baking powder, salt, sugar and onion powder.
In a separate medium bowl, whisk together egg and buttermilk.
Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and whisk until mixture is smooth. Cover and chill 1 – 2 hours checking consistency for ice cube shape.
Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat with 2-3 inches of vegetable oil in it. Heat until a deep-fry thermometer reads 350 degrees F.
Drop tablespoonfuls of the chilled batter, about 6 at a time, into the oil. Fry and flip until both sides are a deep golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel-lined tray to drain and cool slightly.
Fry remaining batter in batches (making sure the oil is always at 350 degrees and allow hushpuppies to cool just slightly before serving.
Now my twin brother, whose sole responsibility is to make the honey butter came up with the idea to add cream cheese and cinnamon so feel free to use, adapt and make it your own. He uses a blender and although I’ve never seen him make it as I was busy with the hushpuppies it amazes me how light and creamy the honey butter is that he makes… you could bottle it and sell it – it’s just that good!
Add 1 cup of butter.
Add honey to taste.
Add 1 oz of cream cheese (whipped).
Add cinnamon sugar to taste.
A funny story about the laws of supply and demand during our time at the beach this past Thanksgiving. I’m so busy prepping turkeys, frying them and watching the turkey fryer (as I don’t like to leave it unattended for safety reasons) that I’m downstairs in the cold salivating over hushpuppies I just cooked as I only had 2-3 and then had to go back downstairs. I get a break after the first turkey, go upstairs, look in the serving dish where the hushpuppies were and… there were none. Keep in mind that this is about 60 hushpuppies gone in less time than it takes to fry a turkey. I asked “where are the hushpuppies?” I was told they’re gone. I laughed and replied “no, really where is the other bowl.” Unbeknownst to me every single hushpuppy was eaten, everyone loved them and I couldn’t have been more pleased.
BY: Cory Prado