Hush puppies are usually made by deep frying cornbread batter in grease or lard. Although no one knows who came up with this fanciful name, some food historians say that it may have been coined during the years of scarcity following the Civil War, when cooks would toss scraps of fried batter to their hungry, yelping dogs, saying, “Hush, puppies!”
Popular in Johnson’s native state of Tennessee throughout the nineteenth century, these delectably greasy little treats were often served with fish or shellfish. Hush puppies and fried catfish is another particularly classic southern combination.
Special equipment: a deep-fry thermometer
1 cup yellow cornmeal
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon coarse salt
1 large egg
¾ cup buttermilk
Canola oil for frying (about 5-6 cups)
In a medium bowl, mix together cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a small bowl, whisk together egg and buttermilk, then add to cornmeal mixture and stir until well combined.
Fill a large, deep skillet with 2 to 3 inches of oil. Heat oil until it reaches 320°F on a deep-fry thermometer. Working in batches of 6, drop batter, 1 tablespoonful at a time, into the oil and fry until the hush puppies rise to the surface and are golden brown, about 3 minutes.
Transfer with a slotted spoon to a paper-towel-lined plate. Allow oil to return to 320°F between batches. Serve immediately.