I tasted my first hushpuppy at a seafood shack in Georgia, a divey little place we took my grandparents to after church every couple of Sundays. I was just a gangly little thing with a voracious appetite, and my parents — my father in particular — were schooling me in the glories of all things Southern and fried. While the grownups exclusively ordered the catfish and shrimp, I went straight for my go-to: kid-friendly chicken fingers. (Catfish brought up thoughts of my beloved feline, Munchkin, and I couldn’t bear the thought of eating anything related to her.)
I had no problem, however, stealing the sides of hushpuppies right off my parents’ plates. (Funny that I didn’t seem to mind eating anything that sounded as if it had something to do with the family dog.) I’d snatch those little balls of fried dough faster than anyone could wave a hand to stop me. Eventually my dad had to start getting an extra order for the table. I was utterly hooked on hushpuppies.
Most Southerners don’t know where hushpuppies get their memorable (if odd-sounding) name. The lingering tale is that fish-camp cooks would fry up leftover batter from supper and throw it to the wailing hound dogs in an attempt to muzzle them. As such, hushpuppies were born. However they came about, and no matter what their name, I sure am glad they exist.
Some folks say hushpuppies should only be served with fish, but I think they go well with just about anything. As for this hushpuppy recipe, they’re not just good — they’re awesome. I’ve spent quite a few years perfecting the recipe and added some unorthodox ingredients along the way, but the proof is in the pudding. (Or so they say.)
The thick batter yields hushpuppies that are light and tender from the sour cream and airy, almost ethereal, from the beer. The creamed corn makes their texture rich and dreamy, and every bite is packed with flecks of bright yellow corn. These hushpuppies are a little sweet and a little salty, and just about perfect if you ask me. Now the only thing missing is a plate full of Georgia catfish and a pile of French fries. And I can probably arrange that.
Creamy Corn Hushpuppies Recipe
Active time: 20 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes
Yields: 18 – 20 hush puppies
Canola or peanut oil, for frying
1 cup self-rising cornmeal mix
1/2 cup self-rising flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup low-sodium creamed corn
1/2 cup sweet yellow corn
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup packed, coarsely grated onion
1 large egg
1/4 cup unopened pilsner-style beer
Fill a Dutch oven or cast-iron pot with a few inches of peanut or canola oil and heat on medium-high until it reaches 375 degrees F.
In a large bowl, whisk together the cornmeal mix, flour, sugar and salt. Add the creamed corn, yellow corn, sour cream, onion and egg; gently stir until just combined. Pour in just-opened beer and mix until completely incorporated.
Using a metal springform ice cream scoop to form rounded balls, carefully lower 5 to 6 dollops of batter into the hot oil one at a time (I gently slip the scoop into the oil, then release the batter by squeezing the clamp a few times). Cook, flipping occasionally, until the hush puppies are a deep golden brown, approximately 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon or spider, dripping excess oil back into the pot, and place on a paper towel-lined sheet pan to cool.
Continue with the remaining batter, returning the oil to 375 degrees F in between batches. Serve the hush puppies immediately. Keep warm in a low oven, if necessary.
Nealey moved from Alabama to the West Coast to follow her dreams, only to realize once there how much she missed good ol’ country cooking. So she took to the kitchen and began re-creating the dishes of her past, but this time without any help from a can. What started out as a hobby turned into an obsession, so she quit her day job to pursue cooking, and eating, fulltime. Dixie Caviar is where you can follow her pursuits of all things Southern.