Hush puppies are under-rated, in my humble opinion. We’re talking fried cornbread here folks…yeah, fried! So bring on the fried catfish, rémoulade sauce and pass me the hush puppies…laissez les bon temps rouler!! Fried food isn’t everyday food, but it really does get a bad rap. If food is fried at the proper temperature, and it’s pretty much all about maintaining that temperature, it absorbs very little oil. The key is to not over-crowd the pan; that’s what causes the problem of soggy, oil-laden fried food. Too many pieces in the fat makes the temperature drop too far, too fast and not recover quickly enough. It’s really just that simple. So, don’t over-crowd the fryer and you have hush puppies, with a nice crispy texture and a lot of flavor; the perfect thing to save your precious calories for.
These little babies can be an appetizer or by adding a protein like lobster, shrimp or crabmeat, they can be a side dish. Don’t hesitate to add cooked lobster, shrimp or crabmeat to the batter and serve a couple on the side of nice, leafy salad…a perfect first course.
In one bowl, place wet ingredients:
- 1 cup coarse yellow cornmeal
- 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
- 3 eggs (lightly beaten)
- 3 tablespoon melted bacon fat, cooled slightly, but still liquid
In another bowl, combine the dry ingredients:
- 1 1/4 cups fine yellow or white cornmeal
- 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons dried bell pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 teaspoons smoked sweet or hot paprika
- 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic granules
- 1 cup thawed and well-drained corn kernels
- 3/4 cup chopped scallions
Whisk wet ingredients together; let stand for 20-30 minutes to soften the cornmeal slightly.
Add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients; stir until the batter is just combined. Let rest for 10 minutes. In a 6-quart stockpot or a mini electric fry pot, heat oil to between 350ºF and 360ºF, keeping the oil at a steady temperature. Once the oil is hot enough, drop small scoops of batter (I use a small ice cream scoop which works exceedingly well) or by rounded tablespoons of batter into the oil in batches of 4 – 8. You don’t want to over-crowd. The cooking process is fast, about 60 to 90 seconds. As soon as the hush puppies start to float, use tongs to rotate (both sides should be crisp and light golden brown). It helps to put a skimmer on top of them at this point to keep them submerged.
Use a slotted spoon to remove, and transfer to a clean brown bag to quickly drain. Serve hot with Café New Orleans Creole Rémoulade Sauce.
NOTE: You may add 1-2 cups finely minced cooked lobster, crab or shrimp, if desired. The hush puppies can be fried up to 1 hour ahead, drained well and placed on a cookie sheet. Reheat just before serving, in a preheated 350°F oven for a few minutes.
Hush Puppies Recipe©Marcia Lahens 2015. All rights reserved.
I enjoy the texture of a coarser cornmeal, but not the grittiness. The solution to the grittiness problem, is allowing the coarse cornmeal to soak in the buttermilk/egg mixture for 15 or 20 minutes. You can cover this mixture with plastic, pop it in the fridge in the morning and it’s waiting for you when you arrive home from work.
Combine the dry ingredients; corn and scallions are considered dry ingredients here. You add the scallions and corn to the dry ingredients so they get coated with the flour and they will then be more evenly distributed throughout the mixture. This is particularly true when making cakes or quick breads or muffins. The flour coats the larger, heavier, wetter ingredients and in essence “slows” them down until the batter can set in the heat of the oven (or fryer, in this case)…does that make sense? I don’t know if I explained that all that well. But, that’s why you do it this way. But, you can do the dry ingredients, without the corn and scallions in the morning, cover and set aside until you’re ready for them; then add the scallions and corn, stir until coated and dump the dry and wet together. When you combine the wet with the dry, don’t over mix or you develop the gluten in the flour and the hush puppies will be tough and not light and crispy.
The combined batter should look like this.
Heat the oil, and you’ll need at least 3-4 inches of oil with at least that amount of head room. Place a thermometer in the oil, but not touching the bottom of the pan. I think all olive oil would taste fantastic, it’s just too expensive to deep fry with, so I use vegetable oil and add maybe, 1/2 cup of olive oil for flavor. Heat the oil to 350°F and using an ice cream scoop (it’s so easy and all the little puppies are the same size so they cook evenly), scoop the batter, holding the batter near the hot oil, gently release the puppy into the oil. Repeat several times, but don’t over-crowd the hush puppies. You want that oil to stay as close as possible to 350°F, so they don’t soak up the oil like a sponge. I could get about 5-6 in this little deep-fryer; they are done in about 1 1/2 minutes. When the float to the top, gently turn them and leave them for 15-20 seconds. Remove the puppies with a slotted spoon and drain well. If you decide you’d like to get this out of the way before your guests arrive, you can fry them up to an hour ahead, put them on a rack set on a cookie sheet and reheat in a 350°F oven for 5 minutes or until they are hot. However, I think they are best served within a few minutes of frying.
You have options now. These are great on a salad…think croutons! They are wonderful as an appetizer. These are served with a Creole Rémoulade Sauce, but you can use Ranch Dressing or Tzatziki Sauce.
However you choose to serve them, get ’em while they’re hot!