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Hush Puppies

A thinly crisp shell, a soft, searing-hot cornbread center, the hazy perfume of grated onion, and the low heat of black pepper—that’s what a hush puppy is about.
difficulty:
yield:

About 24 bite-size hush puppies

time:

45 minutes, start to finish

Hush puppies are traditionally made with fine cornmeal, but we like them just as much with coarse. Use whatever you have on hand—as long as it’s from Anson Mills.

introduction

You know something is wrong when a routine exam finds the patient with barely a pulse. Yet that is just what happened to the fabled hush puppy. Once the hush puppy forsook good cornmeal and added sugar to its diet, it gained a lot of weight, and its once-slender figure ballooned into a big, deep-fried corn-fection like something in a bad donut shop. Some hush puppies started using too many chemicals and took on the nasty flavor valence of a commercial mix. Their cooking oil went downhill and they let themselves go, getting done up ahead of time only to hang around in a warming oven.

Historically a coastal fried seafood side, hush puppies should be so good that once they hit the table no one eats anything else. Instead, they’re often the last to leave, borne away in their greasy plastic baskets after the rest of the food is gone.

Hush puppies don’t need much to be terrific: great cornmeal and grated onion, a touch of butter and some clean, hot oil. A little restraint with the baking powder and no sugar. What's tough about that?

equipment mise en place

For this recipe, you will need a small saucepan; a large mixing bowl; a 4-quart Dutch oven, a deep, heavy-bottomed saucepan or an electric deep-fat fryer; a deep-fry thermometer that can be attached to the sides of a pan; a pair of tongs; and a slotted spoon.

    • ¾
      cup whole milk
    • 1
      teaspoon fine sea salt
    • ½
      teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    • 1
      ounce (2 tablespoons) unsalted butter
    • 7.5
      (1½ cups) Anson Mills Antebellum Fine Cornmeal or Antebellum Coarse Cornmeal (white or yellow), plus additional if needed
    • About 6 cups peanut oil
    • 1
      large egg
    • 1
      teaspoon baking powder
    • 1
      small onion, peeled and grated
  1.  

    Heat the milk, salt, pepper, and butter in a small saucepan over low heat until the butter melts. Turn the cornmeal into a large mixing bowl. Pour the hot milk over the cornmeal and stir to combine. The cornmeal should be completely moistened but not runny. Cover the bowl and let the cornmeal rest for 5 to 10 minutes.

  2.  

    Meanwhile, pour peanut oil to a depth of 3 inches (you’ll need about 6 cups) into a 4-quart Dutch oven or a deep, heavy-bottomed saucepan and attach a deep-fry thermometer to the side of the pot. Heat the oil over medium heat to 360 degrees. Alternatively, heat the oil in an electric deep-fat fryer.

  3.  

    Crack the egg into a small bowl and whisk to combine. Whisk in the baking powder, and then stir in the grated onion. Turn the egg mixture into the moistened cornmeal and stir with a wooden spoon to combine. The batter will be fairly thick, but should drop shaggily from a spoon (fig. 3.1); if it is thin or droopy, stir in additional cornmeal until the proper consistency is reached.

  4.  

    Using 2 regular teaspoons (one to scoop and one to shove), drop 7 to 10 hush puppies one at a time into the hot oil. Loosen the hush puppies from the bottom of the pan with tongs and turn them frequently so they cook evenly (fig. 4.1). Fry the hush puppies until deep golden brown, about 2 minutes. Remove the fried pups from the oil with a slotted spoon and transfer them to paper towels to drain. Bring the oil back to temperature and continue to fry the remaining hush puppies. Serve the hush puppies hot as hors d’oeuvres with our fabulous Hush Puppy Dipping Sauce or as a side with fried fish or barbeque and coleslaw.

    1. 3.1
    1. 4.1