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Basic Down-Home Hush Puppies

Updated March 01, 2018

Cookbook

The Cornbread Gospels

Published by Workman Publishing Company

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

This is the traditional hush puppy, the one most people who grew up eating hush puppies recall happily. Some grandmas grated the onion, some minced it; some, these days, pulse-chop it in the processor. Some wouldn’t think of eating hush puppies without ketchup, while others enjoy them sprinkled with a bit of coarse salt and malt vinegar (à la British fish-and-chips). Still others are partisans of butter and honey—yes, even with the onions.

Makes15 to 20 (serves 4 to 5)

Cooking MethodFrying

CostInexpensive

Kid FriendlyYes

Recipe CourseSide Dish

Dietary ConsiderationHalal, Kosher, Peanut Free, Soy Free, Tree Nut Free, Vegetarian

EquipmentDeep Fryer

Five Ingredients or LessYes

MealBrunch, Dinner

MoodBlue

Taste and TextureCrisp, Crunchy, Savory, Sweet, Tangy

Type of DishCorn Bread, Quickbreads

Ingredients

  • 1 2/3 cups stone-ground cornmeal, preferably white
  • ¼ cup unbleached white flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ to 1½ teaspoons sugar
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (optional, but good)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • ½ medium onion, very finely minced
  • Mild vegetable oil, for frying

Instructions

  1. If you don’t intend to serve the hush puppies virtually straight from the stove, preheat the oven to 200°F.

  2. Combine the dry ingredients thoroughly in a medium bowl.

  3. Beat together the eggs and buttermilk in a small bowl. Stir this into the dry ingredients to make a batter thick enough to mound on the end of a teaspoon. Stir in the onion. As is almost always the case with cornbreads, don’t overbeat the batter or you’ll toughen the hush puppies.

  4. Pour the oil into a large skillet to reach a depth of 1 to 1½ inches, depending on the depth of your skillet. Place the skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot enough to fry in (365°F on a thermometer, or test with a drop of batter, which should sizzle immediately and start to brown), drop the batter in by small rounded teaspoonfuls, using a second teaspoon to scrape off the batter into the fat. Working in batches, fry 5 or 6 hush puppies at a time, making sure not to overcrowd the skillet. Fry until the balls are golden brown on their underneath sides, 45 seconds to 1 minute. Then turn them with a slotted spoon and continue cooking until the other side is nice and golden, too, 30 to 40 seconds more.

  5. Either transfer to a serving dish, blot with paper towels, and serve posthaste, or line a baking sheet with paper towels (or, traditionally, torn-open brown paper grocery sacks) and scoop the finished hush puppies from the fat onto the paper-lined sheet. Transfer them to the preheated oven to keep them warm, and begin frying the next batch.

  6. Variations:

  7. Sweet Milk Hush Puppies

  8. A milk batter has slightly less tang and tenderness than one made with buttermilk. Use milk to replace the buttermilk, omit the baking soda, and use 1 level tablespoon of baking powder to leaven the batter.

  9. Texas Hush Puppies

  10. Use stone-ground yellow cornmeal instead of white. Add a teaspoon of garlic powder or (infinitely better in my view) 3 or 4 pressed garlic cloves. Omit the black pepper, but add 1 to 2 finely minced fresh or pickled jalapeño peppers (leaving in the seeds, if you wish, for extra kick). If you like, add a little minced parsley or cilantro. And—I am told this is the secret—fry the hush puppies in the same oil used for frying the fish you’re serving them with.

  11. Quickie Garden Hush Puppies

  12. Substitute 2 cups minus 2 tablespoons of self-rising cornmeal (White Lily is the preferred brand) for the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Use milk or water in place of the buttermilk, adding a few tablespoons of finely minced tomatoes to the liquid, to equal the 1 cup total. Use 2 or 3 finely chopped scallions instead of the regular onion.

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