Monday, August 5, 2013

BBQ Sides: How to Make Hushpuppies and 10 Tips for Deep Frying

I love hushpuppies but there is one thing I don't understand about them.  How did they become associated with barbecue?

hushpuppies, hush puppies, how to make hushpuppies, deep frying tips
We made this batch to go with some BBQ chicken and smoked brisket.

I totally understand their presence at fish fries, it seems only natural since you already have the hot oil rolling.  But that isn't the case with BBQ.   I searched around and couldn't find any specific rationale.  Heck, I couldn't even primary documentation of the origin of the hushpuppy other than several anecdotes that appeared over and over in countless articles.

  • Run away slaves invented them to keep the dogs quiet as they slipped away.
  • Confederate soldiers used them to keep the dogs quiet being stealthy near Union camps
  • Hunters/trappers used them to keep the dogs quiet while cooking their bounty.
  • French nuns in New Orleans created them as croquettes de maize to keep the dogs quiet during mass (okay, I made up the mass part but the French nuns bit is found in several articles)
So I can't tell you WHY hushpuppies are often found on BBQ menus other than to guess that hushpuppies are a traditional Southern food and so is BBQ.  But who cares?  I love hushpuppies!

Alexis and I cooked about 9 different recipes this past weekend and this is the one we liked the best.  It is lighter and fluffier than the dense all corn meal versions.  I also like my corn bread and hushpuppies on the sweet side, hence the sugar.

hushpuppies, hush puppies, how to make hushpuppies, deep frying tips


Prep Time: 20 min
Cook Time: 30 min

Ingredients (28-32 hush puppies)
  • 1/2 cup yellow self-rising cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup white self-rising cornmeal
  • 1 3/4 cup self rising flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 egg lightly beaten
  • 1/2 onion chopped
  • 1/4 c canned corn, chopped
  • 1/4 c red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp green onion, finely chopped
  1. Mix together the dry ingredients (first six) in a large bowl. Stir in the egg and buttermilk just until well blended. Stir in the veggies. Your mix should be enough that if you scoop out a spoonful and turn the spoon sideways, it will hold onto the spoon for a second before falling off. If not, add more flour in small amounts. Let sit for 30 minutes at room temperature before starting to cook.
  2. Preheat a deep fryer or deep pan filled with 2-3 inches of oil to 375f. Make sure the temp is in that range before cooking or you'll get oily, soggy-puppies instead of hush puppies.
  3. Lightly oil a tablespoon or ice cream scoop. Scoop a ball and drop the batter into the hot oil. Use another spoon to help get it off if sticking. Cook in batches for 2-3 minutes until golden brown on all sides. 
  4. Use a wire mesh spider or slotted spoon to remove to a raised rack. Season with salt, keep warm in a 200f oven and repeat.
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 Excuse the bad lighting.  I HATE the smell of fried foods so we use the deep fryer in the garage on a work bench.  That way the whole house doesn't smell like oil for the next 24 hours.

brisket, bge brisket, grill dome brisket, craycort brisket
Gratuitous brisket shot.  It looked good but I wasn't thrilled with it.  It was a little peppery and texture wasn't as tender as I like.  I've had 3 REALLY good briskets in a row, this one broke that chain.

hushpuppies, hush puppies, how to make hushpuppies, deep frying tips

10 Tips For Deep Frying  
[Source - my notes from Rouxbe Online Cooking School's class on Deep Frying]
  • As a general rule, temp should be 350 to 375f. 
  • Monitor your oil temps while cooking.  If it gets too cool, you'll have oily food.  If it gets too hot, your exterior will be done but the interior still  raw or doughy.  
  • Add food in small batches to avoid your temperature dropping.
  • To tell if oil is read, drop in a cube of bread.  It should turn golden in 1 minute.
  • Use metal or heat proof tools and be careful as they can heat up during cooking.
  • Watch your oil level limits in fryers and never fill a pan more than 1/2 full.  If you overflow the oil when adding food, you could start a fire.
  • You can tell when many fried foods are done by the golden color.
  • You can also tell when many fried foods are done because they will float when done.  
  • Season the fried foods immediately after cooking (between batches, don't wait until they are all done).
  • Use a raised rack and don't stack the cooking items while hot, the crust will get soggy. 
Programming Note:  The Shed
Check out Food Network's newest show, The Shed, as they follow the antics of the Orrison family and the ShedHead nation.  I had the opportunity to spend time with Brad and his dad Craig at the Kingsford Invitational last year and then the whole family at Memphis in May this year.  They really are as funny and wild as they appear in this show, it's not an act.  
Craig and I at the Anhueser Busch Brewery in St Louis in 2012.
Tune in on Mondays starting tonight at 10pm Eastern on the Food Network.