Back in the day, a big night out for my family was a trip to Red Lobster for all-you-can-eat King Crab. Boy, we could really do some damage on those nights. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think they do this anymore, having long ago switched to the cheaper Snow Crab. I truly think my family is responsible for this. As a 7 year old, I could easily plow through 3 platters myself. No joke. We don’t mess around when it comes to King Crab and knew all the tricks to get the sweet tender crab meat from the sharp, stubborn shells so the platters kept coming. Above all, the key to maximizing your crab-ability was to stay focused and not be distracted as the server plied you with various sides and cheap fill-ups. Dirty tricks, I say. Free beverage refills? Not listening. Salad? No. Soup? Go away. Hush Puppies? Noo…. Wait a minute. Come back here.
Before Red Lobster switched to those Cheddar Bay Biscuits, there were hush puppies. And they were delicious. Deep fried little balls of onion-y cornbread, I looked forward to that basket piled high with the crispy nuggets and always asked for more. I deeply resent to this day that those damn biscuits replaced my glorious hush puppies. Though I haven’t stepped foot inside a Red Lobster in years, it still stings.
I know what’s coming. You’re going to try to tell me how wonderful those biscuits are. OK, OK, there’s something to unlimited baskets of warm cheesy bread, I’ll give you that. But let’s be honest: when you stop and think about it, they’re just OK at best. Anybody with a box of Biscuit, some industrial cheddar and a bushel of salt can make those things. They are there for one sole purpose – to fill you up so you dip less into the “all you can eat” trough. Don’t be fooled! Stay focused! And bring back the hush puppies would you?
I doubt that will happen and if it did, my doubts are higher that I’d become a regular Red Lobster customer. So I started making my own hush puppies. They’re not that difficult and if there’s a better reason to fire up that oil, I have yet to find one (OK, maybe doughnuts.) During summer trips to a friends cabin, we’ve taken to having fish frys with all the accompaniments and these fit right in perfectly. My friend Josh and I alternate batches – first into the fryer goes a batch of these, then a batch a fish and onward until we run out of one or the other or both. It’s a perfect meal and says summer to me in every way possible.
I like my hush puppies to have a bit of texture, a little bit of grit, which is why I mix fine grind cornmeal with medium. Fine grind is the standard stuff, like Quaker, and the medium grind is a bit special – looks for the Bob’s Red Mill display in your grocery store. You can go 100% fine grind if that’s all you can find or prefer. It’s a question of texture and the answer is completely up to you.
STRESS THERAPY BAKING FACTOR: FIRE UP THE FRYER! Warm, crispy with a hint of onion – these are fantastic. Of course they are; they’re deep fried cornbread. How can that not be delicious? As part of a fish fry, they’re ideal because once you have the fryer oil going, why not throw everything you can in there? If you have one of those portable propane burners it makes a fantastic alternative to heating up the kitchen – drag it outside, hit the gas and pop open a beer. That’s the makings of a fine party.
On this blog four years ago: At the Market
On this blog three years ago: a Flag Cake for Independence Day
On this blog two years ago: Sweet & Spicy Beer Mustard
On this blog one year ago: Strawberry Hibiscus Popsicles
Other fried things from this blog (you know, while you have the oil hot): Chocolate Churros, Cider Doughnuts, Paczki (Polish filled donuts) Navajo Tacos, Ginger Peach Hand Pies
Makes about 50 smallish hush puppies
vegetable oil for frying
1 ½ cups fine grind corneal
1 ½ cups medium grind cornmeal
1 ½ Tablespoons sugar
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
¾ teaspoon onion powder
1 Tablespoon ground pepper
scant ¼ teaspoon cayenne
1 ½ cups buttermilk
6 green onions, minced (about 2/3 cup)
2 large eggs
- Heat 1 ½” oil in a heavy pot over medium heat to 365°F – the oil needs to be deep enough for the hush puppies to lightly bob while frying. Line a sheet pan with a wire rack and set aside until needed.
- Meanwhile, whisk together cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, onion powder, ground pepper and cayenne in a large bowl.
- With a rubber spatula, blend in the buttermilk, green onion and eggs until just combined.
- When the oil reaches 365°F carefully drop rounded tablespoons of batter in a single layer (about 8-10 per batch depending on the size of your pan) turning occasionally, until deep golden brown, 2-3 minutes per batch. I like to use a 1 ¼” scoop – dip in the hot oil before scooping the batter for an easy release. Re-dip anytime you feel the batter is sticking.
- When the hush puppies are deeply golden brown and cooked through (you may have to test one or two to get a sense of timing) transfer with a slotted spoon to the rack lined sheet pan to drain and sprinkle lightly with salt while hot.
- Return oil to 365°F between batches – this is important. If the oil is too hot, they tend to sort of explode brown far too quickly while the centers remain raw. If the oil is too low, the hush puppies will absorb too much oil and become greasy. Maintaining 365°F is key – increase and lower the heat as necessary. Keep hush puppies warm in a 200°F oven between batches if desired.
- Serve while hot, warm and crispy. These aren’t so great the next day so make sure you eat them all.