There’s no doubt that biscuits and cornbread are the most popular quick breads in Southern United States cuisine. Next in popularity, especially with fish fries and seafood dinners is the hushpuppy.
Legend has it that these savory fried cornmeal dumplings have their roots in Southern history. Confederate soldiers and hunters would fry up the last bit of their cornbread batter while out in the field and toss the fried dough to their hunting dogs to keep them quiet.
Hushpuppies now take their place next to fried catfish, seafood or BBQ on tables all across the American South. There are variations, some folks add minced hot peppers, cheese or corn. Some argue that a proper puppy can only be made with white cornmeal, others will only use yellow. Fresh herbs show up in a few versions.
The following recipe is a standard version, but feel free to add some minced hot peppers if you like. Hushpuppies are best eaten right away while still hot and crispy on the outside.
2 cups yellow cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon finely minced parsley
¼ cup finely minced fresh or dehydrated onion
1 ½ cups milk (or buttermilk)
1 tablespoon lemon juice (omit if using buttermilk)
1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
Vegetable, peanut or canola oil for frying
In a cast iron skillet or a large heavy fry pan over medium-high heat, heat about 3 inches of oil to 350°-360° F or until a small amount of batter dropped into the hot oil sizzles and floats
In a large mixing bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients, parsley and onions.
Add the lemon juice to the milk and set aside for 5 minutes (if using buttermilk omit the lemon juice). Add the egg and add to the milk, whisk to combine.
Add 1 cup of the milk/egg mixture to the dry ingredients and combine to make a stiff batter (if the batter is too dry, add the rest of the milk; if the batter is too thin, add cornmeal). The batter should be thoroughly moistened, but should still hold a rounded shape on a spoon.
Using a teaspoon, scoop up a heaping spoonful of batter and using another spoon (or fingertip) form into a rough ball and slide into the hot oil. Rinsing the spoon in cold water after every 3 balls makes forming them easier. Fry for approximately 5 minutes or until golden brown, turning to brown all sides.
Remove from oil and place hushpuppies on paper towels; continue cooking the remaining batter. Keep warm in the oven until all the hushpuppies have been fried and dinner is ready to serve. Serve hot.