A fish fry and barbecue staple, hushpuppies are made from a six-ingredient batter, which is dropped by spoonfuls into hot oil to cook. You can make them yourself--we walk you through the steps with our tips and photos. So, how did they get their name? They were perhaps the original treat (aka bribe) for Fido. Legends tell how Southern fishermen and Civil War soldiers first made the golden nuggets from scraps just to toss to barking and begging dogs with the command to "Hush, puppy."
- The Batter: Stir 10 times around the bowl--just until dry and liquid ingredients are barely combined together. Over-mixing causes a tough texture.
- The Pot: Use a pot that is at least 6 inches deep and fits the largest element on your cooktop. Our Test Kitchens had excellent results frying this recipe in both the 6-quart Dutch oven shown in the photographs and in a deep cast-iron skillet. We also tried an electric deep-fat fryer with a temperature control dial and found the batter stuck to the basket and the temperature did not get hot enough to properly fry the hushpuppies. So, stick with the old-fashioned pot-on-a-stove method.
- The Oil: A clean ruler placed in the pot can help you determine the line for a 2-inch depth of oil. (Don't skimp; the batter needs to submerge in the oil.) For great results, the oil needs to maintain 375°. Too low and the hushpuppies absorb oil, too high and the outside burns before the inside is done. Plan to adjust the temperature dial on your range slightly up or down throughout the frying to keep the temperature at 375°. A candy/deep-fat fry thermometer (now sold in many grocery stores for about $5) is a must.
- The Drop: You can drop the batter using two soup-size spoons sprayed with vegetable cooking spray or a 1 tablespoon-measure ice-cream scoop.
- The Flip: Sometimes hushpuppies will flip themselves over. Use a slotted spoon or frying utensil such as the one shown below to turn the rest.
- The Finish: Hushpuppies are usually done at the point you think they might need to cook longer--when the rough bumps or high spots are rich golden brown. Oil may be used for one more fry job if stored properly. After all the hushpuppies are cooked, let the oil cool thoroughly. To remove cooked particles, strain the oil through a fine wire-mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth or a coffee filter. Use a funnel to pour the oil into an empty vegetable oil bottle or a disposable plastic container with a lid. Label, date, and store in the fridge; use within one month.
This article is from the April 2005 issue of Southern Living.