Monday, July 13, 2009

Hush Puppy Corncakes … I Think

Have you ever seen a recipe, and wanted to make it, but didn’t want it to be very heavy, so you made a few changes, and then when you cooked it, it turned out really different than you thought, but it still tasted good?

That happened to me once.

Food & Wine had a great-looking recipe for hush puppies in their June issue, and I was itchin’ to try it out. Sadly, like 99.5% of hush puppy recipes, it required frying, which is not so great for the cheap/healthy/good thing we attempt here. So, in an effort to reduce the fat, I decided to brown the puppies in a sauté pan, and then finish them in the oven.

Only, that didn’t happen.

Instead, as soon as the batter hit the skillet, it began to expand and bubble. Five minutes later, I had six mini-corncakes that flipped like flapjacks and looked like arepas, but tasted like hush puppies. I narrowed these unexpected results down to two factors:

A) I used 1% milk, which created a thinner batter, and,

B) Deep-frying cooks the outside of food simultaneously and instantaneously, freezing it in position. Pan-browning cooks slowly and doesn’t cover nearly as much surface area, giving everything time to spread out. If I had dropped the batter in hot oil, all would have been well. But I did that other thing, so … flapjacks. Or corncakes. Or something.

Still, they were very tasty. We ate them with a little bit of honey butter, though we suspect they would have also been nice with mozzarella cheese and/or shrimp with bay seasoning. They came out to under 60 calories and only 2.1 grams of fat per serving and … get this … nine cents each. Seriously.

So, people! Go eat these … things. They’re sincerely very good, even if I can’t quite identify what they are.

P.S. I’ve started using crazy/pricey farmer’s market eggs, so odds are your corn cakes will come in about $0.75 less, or $2 total. That’s 7 cents per cake. Wow.

Hush Puppy Corncakes
Makes about 28 or 30 1-1/2” cakes
Inspired by the July 2009 issue of Food & Wine.

1 cup coarse yellow cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking soda
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons dried oregano or Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
¾ cup 1% milk
2 scallions, finely chopped
3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided

1) In a large bowl, combine the first 8 ingredients, through black pepper. Whisk 'em together.

2) In a separate medium bowl, combine eggs, milk, scallions, and 1 tablespoons veggie oil. Pour this mixture into the flour mixture. Stir until everything is barely moistened. Cover. Stick in the fridge for 60 minutes.

3) Heat 1/2 tablespoon veggie oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When it's really hot/shimmering, drop rounded tablespoons of batter into the pan, like you would pancakes. Cook until bubbles appear on the side facing you, then flip over and continue cooking until golden brown.

4) Repeat until batter is finished, replenishing the pan with ½ tablespoon of olive oil with every new batch. Adjust heat as needed.

5) Serve with shrimp, honey butter, mozzarella, or anything else you can think of.

Approximate Calories, Fat, and Price Per Serving
59 calories, 2.1 g fat, $0.09

1 cup coarse yellow cornmeal: 505 calories, 2.3 g fat, $0.45
1 cup all-purpose flour: 455 calories, 1.3 g fat, $0.09
2 tablespoons sugar: 93 calories, 0 g fat, $0.05
1 tablespoon baking soda: negligible calories and fat, $0.03
2 teaspoons kosher salt: negligible calories and fat, $0.04
2 teaspoons dried oregano or Italian seasoning: 18 calories, 0.5 g fat, $0.21
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper: negligible calories and fat, $0.03
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper: 2 calories, 0.5 g fat, $0.02
3 large eggs, lightly beaten: 221 calories, 14.9 g fat, $1.13
¾ cup 1% milk: 79 calories, 1.8 g fat, $0.18
2 scallions, finely chopped: 16 calories, 0.1 g fat, $0.22
3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided: 371 calories, 41.9 g fat, $0.27
TOTAL: 1760 calories, 63.3 g fat, $2.72
PER SERVING (TOTAL/30): 59 calories, 2.1 g fat, $0.09

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