A popular theme for Chanukah this year is “Food that is Thanksgiving-ish or Autumnal but still recognizable as Chanukah fare.” Put another way, the question is: What Thanksgiving food can be fried as latkes or sufganiyot?
I offer you hush puppies. It is fried–perfect for Chanukah. It is a traditional recipe from the American South that is a twist on cornbread, a Thanksgiving classic. Basically, hush puppies are mini latkes made from cornbread batter. Or maybe it is more accurate to say that hush puppies are to cornbread what latkes are to kugel.
Why hush puppies are not more popular (outside the South) I will never understand. They are, according to one journalist, “the best fried food in existence.” Hush puppies may be ready to have their moment, though. The New York Times just featured an article about quinoa hush puppies, as served at Market Table. I wouldn’t be shocked if the NYT quinoa hush puppies recipe makes the rounds for Chanukah.
There are a lot of stories about how Hush Puppies got their name. A popular story is that hush puppies were made from cornmeal leftover from frying fish and thrown to the dogs to quiet them.
My husband was reminiscing recently how his mother would make little latkes from matzoh meal/breadcrumbs and egg that was leftover from breading something for frying. I’ve done that, too. You don’t want to throw away the extra egg and breading, right?
That is kind of what hush puppies taste like, those little breading latkes, but there are also little bits of onion, like with potato latkes. Actually, they also kind of remind me of falafel, but cornbread flavored, of course.
Traditionally, hush puppies are served with fried fish and tartar sauce, but I am not such a fan of dipping deep-fried food into a fat-based sauce. I think the hush puppies taste nice by themselves or served with cranberry applesauce.
But serving hush puppies with a rich sauce is apparently the norm. Curious whether anyone else is serving hush puppies for Chanukah, I came across an article about Amanda Cohen chef/owner of Dirt Candy in New York City. Apparently, Dirt Candy has a super popular appetizer consisting of hush puppies with a side of maple Dijon butter. Market Table offers a spicy aioli to go with the quinoa hush puppies, which is a mayo-based sauce. If that appeals to you, follow the links to get the Maple Dijon Butter and Chili Aioli sauce recipes.
There are lots of recipes for hush puppies, but I offer you the recipe I have been making for many years, which comes right off the side of a bag of Indian Head cornmeal.
Adapted from a recipe on a bag of Indian Head Cornmeal. The original recipe specifies that the onion is optional, but I think the onion is what makes the hush puppies so yummy. If you like your cornbread sweet instead of savory, you might prefer hush puppies with no onion and lots of sugar, maybe 1-2 Tbl. of sugar instead of the 1 tsp. of sugar listed.
1 cup corn meal (white cornmeal is preferred, but yellow cornmeal also works)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon sugar
½ cup milk (or water, but milk is better)
small onion, finely minced (1/4-1/2 cup), optional (you could also use scallions)
Fill heavy pot with 2″ oil and heat to 375 degrees (the oil should shimmer, but not smoke).
Combine the corn meal, salt, baking powder and sugar in a mixing bowl. Stir in the minced onion.
In a separate bowl or measuring cup, beat together the egg and the milk or water.
Add the beaten egg mixture the to cornmeal and stir until smooth.
Drop the batter by teaspoonfuls into the hot oil. Fry until golden brown, turning over as needed. Drain the cooked hush puppies on a paper towel-lined plate.
Makes about two dozen hush puppies.
The Kosher Connection, an informal group of creative kosher food bloggers from all around the world, proudly present our monthly kosher recipe challenge. Each month we will present you with recipes on a different theme from all the kosher food bloggers.