South Louisiana-style Hush Puppies


From The Cornbread Gospels by Crescent Dragonwagon

This repeats several elements of basic down-home hush puppies but combines them in a method just different enough to warrant its own recipe. If you’ve done any Cajun cooking, you’ll recognize the trinity of onion, celery, and green bell pepper that is a backbone of this region’s cuisine, but any native will tell you it’s the green onion tops that make this distinctly South Louisianan. You’ll find some variation on this theme in every community cookbook of the area.

1 cup stone-ground cornmeal, preferably yellow
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup unbleached white flour
1 egg
3/4 cup milk
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 to 1/2 cup finely chopped scallions, green tops only
1 tablespoon grated white onion
1 tablespoon very finely minced celery
1 tablespoon very finely minced green bell pepper
2 teaspoons very finely minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
Mild vegetable oil, for frying

1. Sift the cornmeal, baking powder, salt, sugar, and flour into a large bowl.

2. Separately, beat the egg and milk together in small bowl, and add this to the conrmeal mixture, stirring until just combined. With a few more stirs, add, all at once, the cayenne, scallions, white onion, celery, green pepper, and parsley, strirring until just blended.

3. Pour the oil into a large skillet to reach a depth of 1 to 1 1/2 inches, depending on the depth of your skillet. Place the skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot enough to fry in (365°F on a thermometer, or test with a drop of batter, which should sizzle immediately and start to brown), drop the batter in by rounded teaspoonfuls, using a second teaspoon to scarpe off the batter into the fat. Fry 5 to 6 hush puppies at at time, but don’t overcrowd the pan. Work in batches. Fry until the balls are golden brown underneath, 45 seconds to 1 minute. Turn them with a slotted spoon and continue cooking until the second side is also golden, in 40 to 50 seconds more.

4. Remove the puppies from the skillet, blot well with paper towels, and serve as soon as possible.

Makes 12 to 15. Serves 4 to 5.