BUY THE BOOK
Use this PayPal button to buy Life Along the Apalachicola River directly from me for $15 + $4.99 shipping.
“Do you want hushpuppies people will actually like, or do you just want something to push other food around with?” – Bill McClellan.
The quote above came from May of 2010 at a Mexico Beach family reunion. My three oldest brothers were cooking fish downstairs, while Bill was upstairs making the batter. I was the intermediary – sort of an insult courier service – carrying caustic messages back and forth. At issue was the fact that Bill seemed to be taking longer than the standard two minutes to get the hushpuppy batter ready.
“Go ask Bill if he’s grinding the corn or what,” one of them said. “In case he forgot, tell him it’s meal, flour and water.”
After dinner though, it was Bill who had the last laugh. None of them were left.
* * *
Hushpuppies really are underrated. They can be as simple to make as adding water to cornmeal and then deep-frying, if you only care about volume. Or, they can be elaborate and exotic, like the kind served in trendy restaurants, if you care more about presentation. Or, they can be – as in the case of Bill’s – just plain good to eat.
What follows is Bill’s recipe that converted me from the hushpuppies-as-filler camp. Keep in mind that this isn’t carved into stone. In fact, Bill never measures anything, so consider this more of a general guide than a recipe per se.
Corn meal (plain, white, fine ground)
Whole kernel canned corn
Finely diced onion
Finely diced bell pepper
Seasoning salt or Cajun seasoning
Begin with a mixture of 2/3 meal and 1/3 flour
Add in onions, pepper and corn (including liquid from the can)
Mix in salt and pepper to taste (err toward less)
Pour hot water into this mixture until it is just thin enough that it will drip off of a spoon. (The hot water activates the self-rising flour.)
Refrigerate the batter for 10 minutes or so, until it thickens. At this point, it should hold its shape and fall off the spoon rather than drip.
Heat oil to about 350 degrees and drop serving spoon size balls into the oil.
Fry until golden brown.
This last part is important: As soon as you take the hushpuppies out of the oil, dust them with the seasoning salt or Cajun seasoning.
Don’t count on leftovers.