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History of Hushpuppies
Hushpuppies are finger-shaped
dumplings of cornmeal that are deep-fried and traditionally served with fried catfish.
Also know as corn dodgers, they are especially popular throughout the South. There are
several interesting stories of the origins of hushpuppies:
The oldest story is that
hushpuppies originated in the settlement of Nouvell Orleans (later called New Orleans,
Louisiana), shortly after 1727. They were created by a group of Ursuline nuns who had come
from France. The nuns converted cornmeal into a delicious food that they named croquettes
de maise. The making of these croquettes spread rapidly through the southern states.
An African cook in Atlanta
is said to have given the name hushpuppy to this food. When frying a batch of catfish and
croquettes, a nearby puppy began to howl. To keep the puppy quiet, she gave it a
plateful of the croquettes and said, "hush, puppy." Since the name was cut, it
stuck. This same story is also attributed to a Creole cook.
Hunters and trappers could
be on the trail for days at a time. At suppertime the hunting dogs would get hungry, so
the hunters would mix a batter out of cornmeal or flour and cook it in grease on the
campfire. Then they would throw the fried dough to the pups, telling them to be quiet,
shut up, or "hush."
Confederate soldiers would
sit beside a campfire preparing their meals. If they detected Yankee soldiers approaching,
they would toss their yapping dogs some of the fried cornmeal cakes with the command
In the South, the Salamander
was often known as a "water dog" or "water puppy." These were
deep-fried with cornmeal and formed into sticks. It is said they were called hushpuppies
because eating such lowly food was not something a southern wife would want known to her
Hushpuppy Recipe - How To Make Hushpuppies
The following recipe is from my friend Andra Cook of Raleigh, North Carolina. Andra says,
"My mother-in-law, Belle Cook, would make these hushpuppies, cooking them in an iron pot over
an open fire at the Neuse River in North Carolina. They were delicious with fresh fish, cole slaw,
French fries, and a big dose of fresh air. They never tasted so
Yields: 2 dozen
Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 5 min per batch
Total time: 20 min
4 cups vegetable oil, beaten
2 cups yellow cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups milk or buttermilk
In a large mixing bowl, combine cornmeal, flour, egg, salt,
baking soda, and milk or buttermilk. Mix until batter is smooth and free of any lumps. Batter
should be stiff (if batter is too dry, add milk; if batter is too thin, add cornmeal).
Andra's comments: "Add
the liquid until it gets to the batter consistency desired. Some recommend
stiff batter while others seem to go for towards pancake batter. I think the
proper consistency is in between."
cast-iron skillet or a large heavy fry pan over medium-high heat, heat
vegetable oil to 350° F. or until a small amount of batter dropped into the hot oil
sizzles and floats. Do not let the oil get too hot or the center of the hushpuppies will not cook thoroughly.
is the type of cooking and meat thermometer that I prefer and use in my cooking. I get many readers
asking what cooking/meat thermometer that I prefer and use in my cooking, baking,
and deep frying. I, personally, use the
Thermapen Thermometer shown in the photo on the right. Originally designed for professional users, the
Super-Fast Thermapen Thermometer is used by chefs all over the world. To learn more about this excellent
thermometer and to also purchase one (if you desire), just click on the underlined:
Using two spoons, push a small amount of batter into hot
oil (370° to 380° F). After about 10 seconds, hushpuppies will float to the top and
begin to brown. Fry for approximately 5 minutes or until golden brown, turning to brown all sides.
Remove from oil and place hushpuppies on paper towels; continue cooking the
remaining batter (fry in small batches, adding 4 to 6 hushpuppies to the oil at a time).
NOTE: They can be held in a 200° F oven until serving time (approximately 30
minutes). Serve hot.
Makes 2 dozen hushpuppies.