When Ben Mims, SAVEUR's associate kitchen director, was growing up in rural Mississippi, hush puppies, crisp balls of fried corn bread batter (said to have received their moniker from their ability to shush barking dogs on the rural farms of Dixie), were as common a side dish as mashed potatoes in every other state. Always served with tartar sauce alongside crisp, cornmeal-fried catfish and tangy coleslaw, they make up a trinity of Southern staples to be found in almost every restaurant in the South that doesn't sport white tablecloths or glass stemware. This recipe, from the Carmack Fish House in Vaiden, Mississippi, uses an overleavened batter to produce a crisper outside shell that encases a miraculously moist, oniony center. Serve with tartar sauce and fried catfish.
Yield: serves 4
For the Hush Puppies
- 1 cup flour
- 1 cup cornmeal
- <sup>1</sup>⁄<sub>4</sub> cup baking powder
- 4 <sup>1</sup>⁄<sub>2</sub> tsp. sugar
- 1 <sup>1</sup>⁄<sub>4</sub> tsp. kosher salt
- <sup>1</sup>⁄<sub>2</sub> tsp. onion powder
- <sup>1</sup>⁄<sub>4</sub> tsp. garlic powder
- 1 cup grated onion
- <sup>1</sup>⁄<sub>2</sub> cup buttermilk
- 1 egg
For the Tartar Sauce
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- <sup>1</sup>⁄<sub>4</sub> cup sweet pickle relish
- 2 tbsp. finely chopped pimento-stuffed green olives
- For the tarter sauce: In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, sweet pickle relish, and olives. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.
- For the hush puppies: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, sugar, salt, onion powder, and garlic powder. In a large glass measuring cup, stir together the grated onion, buttermilk, and egg. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry and slowly stir together until the dry ingredients are just combined. Set aside until mixture is puffed and light, about 60 minutes.
- Pour enough vegetable oil that it reaches 2" up the sides of an 8-qt. saucepan and heat to 350° on a deep-fry thermometer. Using a tablespoon, drop small rounds of batter into the oil, making sure to not crowd the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally and flipping halfway through, until golden on the outside and crisp, about 2 minutes. Remove hush puppies from the oil and drain on a cooling rack set over a paper towel–lined baking sheet. Repeat with remaining batter.
- Serve with tartar sauce
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