HUSHPUPPY HOARDER

Pimento Cheese Hushpuppies | for the love of the south

The hot, humid Louisiana air is heavy with mosquitoes, fireflies and the scent of fried fish. Newspaper shrouded picnic tables are piled high with platters of golden, crispy fish fillets and pale green peppery coleslaw, but peaking behind the Tabasco and rémoulade sauce rests the crowning joy of the fish fry, hushpuppies. Hushpuppies are my favorite part of any backyard fish fry or seafood joint.

Whenever I was young, I knew I was walking into a seafood restaurant because of the distinct aroma of damp wood and fish. There were stuffed alligators and moss-covered tanks filled with live seafood to play with while we waited for our table. I listened to everyone gush over what there were going to order that evening. Whenever I was asked what I was going to order, I simply stated, “Nothing.” But I had a plan. See, most people go to seafood places because of the seafood, of course, but I adored going to seafood restaurants for the promise of unlimited hushpuppies.

Pimento Cheese Hushpuppies | for the love of the south

As we were seated, I immediately grabbed the boat-shaped, woven basket filled with brown paper and tiny, round golden hushpuppies and placed them in front of me. Fishing out my trusty butter knife from my paper-restrained silverware, I cut the hushpuppy in half with accuracy in one fell swoop. The piping hot golden nugget of fried cornbread spilt in two, and sweet steam filled the air. The outside was golden and crispy and the inside was bright yellow and fluffy. I was in heaven. I grabbed a small packet of butter, which was in the center of the table, sitting alongside the hot sauce, salt and pepper (as if butter was like any other condiment), and in very precise motions, slathered half of the packet on half of the hushpuppy and the rest on the other…and I.ate.them.all.

Pimento Cheese Hushpuppies | for the love of the south

Once I finished one little basket of puppies, I replaced the empty basket where I found it and stealthily made my way over to the other side of the table, which had a full basket of untouched hushpuppies. I dodged jumping juices of cracking crabs legs and the saunter of stuffed shrimp and fried catfish as my little arms reached for the hushpuppies, which were in sheer peril of being contaminated by seafood spatter. I repeated this action throughout the entire meal without anyone noticing. No one would have guessed that I had eaten my weight in hushpuppies that night. Quiet and content, I sat at the end of the table with a pile of empty butter packets in front me, and a whisper of a smile running across my face. Hushpuppies.

Hushpuppy Prep | for the love of the south

Recipe: Cast-Iron Pimento Cheese Hushpuppies

Serves 4 as a side

Note: This is my version of the beloved hushpuppy. There is a balance of sweetness from the honey, spiciness from the cayenne, sour notes from the pickled pimentos and saltiness from the cheddar, which makes these hushpuppies my favorite!

Since these hushpuppies have extra moisture in the batter in the form of cheese, pimentos and honey, you need to finish these puppies off in the oven. This extra step insures that all of the centers are cooked through properly and allows the entire batch of the hushpuppies to come out of the oven at the same time piping hot!

Dry Ingredients:

1 cup of fine-ground yellow cornmeal

½ cup of all-purpose flour

2 ½ teaspoons of baking powder

½ teaspoon of kosher salt

¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper

Wet Ingredients:

1 large egg, lightly beaten

¾ cup of whole milk (or buttermilk)

2 tablespoons of honey

½ cup of cheddar cheese, grated

¼ cup of pimentos, drained and finely chopped

Canola, peanut or vegetable oil, for frying

In a mixing bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, beat together wet ingredients. Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir just until everything is combined. Cover and let rest for at least 30 minutes in the fridge.

In a 4-quart pot (preferably cast-iron), heat oil at least 3 inches deep to 350oF, making sure the oil remains at a steady temperature.

Preheat oven to 350oF

Once the oil has reached the appropriate temperature, drop rounded tablespoon scoops into the oil in batches of six. (I use a 1½-tablespoon cookie dough scoop.) As soon as the hushpuppies begin to float, flip, allowing both sides to get nice and golden brown. (These puppies cook quickly! They only need about 1 minute total in the oil.) Remove the hushpuppies from the oil and transfer to a paper towel lined plate or brown paper bag to drain. Once all of the hushpuppies have drained, place them into a shallow baking pan in a 350oF oven for 7-10 minutes until the center of the hushpuppies are set. (I usually test a hushpuppy in the center of the baking pan by pricking it with a knife and checking to make sure the center is set and no longer runny. If you notice it is still runny, place them back in the oven for a few more minutes.) Serve piping hot!

 

 

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28 thoughts on “HUSHPUPPY HOARDER

  1. Always served with freshly caught Jack Smelt and coleslaw my mom learned to make hush puppies sweetened with just a touch of sugar when we lived in North Carolina. Your savoy recipe brings back childhood memories!

    • Yes! That sounds amazing! Hushpuppies always have a little sweetness to them. I add honey, which is not traditional, but I think it pairs well with the natural sweetness of the cornmeal! So happy to bring you back to sweet childhood memories!
      X
      Amber

  2. Never tried a hush puppy (I just don’t think they exist here in the uk) but I think I’ll have to try making these! They sound great. Love your story about all that butter smothering 🙂

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  4. I’ve been looking forward to reading this post ever since you posted snippets on IG! Your hushpuppies are absolute. perfection. And that story is hilarious and so precious. You know how to play the fish fry game. I miss hushpuppies so much and I’m so smitten with your recipe. Sweetness is so key, plus oh-my-goodness-pimento-cheese. And I love finishing them off in the oven so that all are done at once. This is just genius, all of it, Amber! It’s made my day.

    • Cynthia,
      Aw you are so sweet! I love the addition of honey in this recipe. Most people add sugar, but the addition of honey adds a beautiful, sweet, floral note to the hushpuppy which is lovely! And, these babies are light and melt in your mouth, unlike some hushpuppies which are dense all the way through! Also, allowing the puppies to finish cooking in the oven gives you a few minutes to clean the kitchen and get rid of the oil! I hope you enjoy them!
      x
      Amber

  5. I LOVE hush puppies, but I’ve never had any like you are describing here! These sound absolutely delicious!!!

    • Marta,
      I love that I introduced you to a classic Southern dish! It’s one of my absolute favorites, and I hope you enjoy these sweet Southern hushpuppies on your side of the world!
      x amber

  6. I love your recipe and the imagery in your writing about your childhood experience with this delicious food. Please change your error in using the expression “one fail swoop” as the correct usage of the phrase is “one fell swoop”. I’m not sure if it was a typo or a result of a possible accent you may have? I’m a southern girl myself and have often found that my southern accent betrays me in my writings. One time on a school report I wrote the word starfoam in lieu of styrofoam! It happens to the best of us southern girls! 😊

    • Nicole,
      Thanks for the sweet words, and thanks for the heads up! That was a typo I most likely did not catch thanks to my Southern accent whenever I reread the essay out loud! I grew up peer reviewing some extreme Southern essays with words like “warsh” instead of wash! Yikes!
      X
      Amber

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