It’ difficult to say what the original corn dodgers were like because there are hundreds of recipes. Essentially you mixed up cornmeal with water or whatever else you had on hand that might improve the taste—eggs, milk, wild onions, or bacon grease, for instance—then you fried it or baked it in a small oval cake.
The variations all had names depending on how they were shaped or prepared. These included corn dabs, hoecakes, and hush puppies, but sources disagree about which one was which.
My experiments with historical recipes for fried and baked cornmeal and water cakes (often called corn pone or johnnycakes) convinced me that these disappeared for good reason.
Hush puppies are the surviving example of the corn-cake genre, and they are extremely popular in East Texas. Consider making hush puppies when you are already heating oil for fried catfish or fried chicken.
- 2½ cups yellow cornmeal, plus more if needed
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 2 cups buttermilk
- 1 egg, beaten
- 3 tablespoons chopped onion
- Peanut oil for deep-frying
Mix the cornmeal, sugar, flour, baking soda, salt, and baking powder in a bowl.
Beat the buttermilk and egg together and combine with the dry ingredients and onion. The batter should be stiff enough to hold its shape. If the batter is too soft, add more cornmeal until it is firm enough to hold shape.
In a deep frying pan, pour peanut oil to a depth of 2 inches and heat to 350°F. Drop heaping tablespoons of batter into the hot oil and fry for 3 to 4 minutes, until golden brown. Maintain the oil temperature and fry in batches of four or five.
Drain on paper towels and hold in a warm oven until all the hush puppies are finished. Serve hot.
WILD ONION CORN DODGERS: Substitute 3 tablespoons chopped wild onions or scallions for the chopped onion and proceed as directed.
JALAPEÑO CORN DODGERS: Add a tablespoon of minced fresh jalapeño chiles and proceed as directed.