These hush puppies, a classic Southern accompaniment to fried fish, are made with cornmeal, flour, eggs, milk, sparkling water, pimentos. Then they’re slathered with butter. Long live the South.
Remember hush puppies? They’re orbs of deep-fried cornbread awesomeness that are crisp and burnished brown on the outside, cakey and tender on the inside, and truly irresistible through and through. And they’re typically served alongside fried fish, although we gotta say, there’s really not anything that couldn’t be improved with these on the side. Bet you can’t stop at just one. We certainly can’t.–Angie Zoobkoff
WHY DO MY HUSH PUPPIES FALL APART?
Food catastrophes are all pretty heartbreaking but disintegrating hush puppies that fall to bits might be one of the worst. So, before that problem even rears its ugly head, here are 2 tips to make sure your pups are anything but crumbly. The batter has to be thick enough and cold enough to be dropped like a ball, not a thin stream of runny batter, into the oil. And speaking of oil, it has to be hot. And stay hot. Those cold balls of dough will significantly cool down your oil, so make sure to let it come back to temp (360°F) before adding more.
For the hush puppies
- 1 cup medium grind yellow cornmeal
- 1 tablespoon self-rising flour or all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 large egg lightly beaten
- 1/2 cup cold sparkling water
- 2 tablespoons whole milk
- 1 tablespoon drained and chopped canned pimentos or chives
- Peanut or vegetable oil for frying
For the sweet whipped butter (optional but encouraged)
- 1/2 cup whipping cream
- Sea salt
Mix the hush puppy batter
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the egg, sparkling water, milk, and pimentos. Add the egg mixture to the cornmeal mixture and combine thoroughly. Cover and stow in the fridge to rest for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours.
Make the sweet whipped butter
- While the hush puppy mixture is resting, combine the cream and a small pinch of salt in a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk on high speed until the cream churns into light and airy whipped butter, about 7 minutes. Cover and stash it in the fridge until you’re ready to serve the hush puppies.
Fry the hush puppies
- In a medium, deep-sided, heavy-bottomed pot set over medium heat, warm 2 inches (5 cm) of the oil to 360°F (180°C). Line a plate with paper towels. Drop rounded tablespoons of batter into the oil, working in batches of about 4 and being careful not to crowd the pot. Cook until both sides to turn deeply golden brown, about 2 minutes total. Drain the fried hush puppies on the paper towels.
- Serve piping hot. Slather with the whipped butter, devour, and repeat.
Recipe Testers' Reviews
Sweet fried corn clouds, crunchy hot from frying, these hush puppies are a salty indulgence as a standalone snack or as an accompaniment to fried catfish. They’re like light puffy balls so addictive on their own that the whipped butter is just gilding the lily.
I prefer a sprinkle of salt on the puppies, hot out of the oil, and nothing else. Do try the homemade butter, though, it’s quickly churned in about 7 minutes and delicious on a hot roll. I chose to use the chives instead of pimentos which added a grassy pungency to the hush puppies.
I used a 10-inch cast iron skillet for frying and the fry time of 2 minutes total is spot on. You will know the sweet cream butter is ready when the pale golden butter separates and buttermilk starts to spatter the kitchen. Be sure and cover the mixer bowl with a towel. Also, you will need an additional few minutes to whip the butter from a heavy to light creaminess depending on how airy you want it.
“Why have I never had hush puppies before?!" This question was repeated a number of times around the table when I served these. We all pretty much went nuts eating these. I've never had the opportunity to try hush puppies, I suppose because I live in Northern Ontario and there isn't a single place that serves them.
The addition of sweet whipped butter just made the whole ceremony something to behold. I was surprised at how sweet these hush puppies are, but this isn't a criticism, they're really just so delicious. I used chopped pimentos and would do so again.
I'm wary of deep frying because I don't have any special equipment and I am a huge, clumsy mess, by my own admission, so these could have been prettier or even more quickly produced. Even so, they came together more easily than I imagined. I didn't get an accurate count of how many because they were eaten as fast as I could fry them. But I think about a dozen?
Honestly, this was a delicious experiment in eating and I'll be making these again. I've already made the sweet cream again to eat with scones. I whipped the cream until it was as thick as possible. It had the consistency of a very light and fluffy butter.
Originally published June 22, 2018