Food & Drink

The South’s Best Hush Puppies

Serves 10-12

Fry up a batch of some of the South’s finest, courtesy of North Carolina’s Hello, Sailor

photo: TIM ROBISON


Over the past two years, Joe Kindred has transformed the former Rusty Rudder fish camp into the stylish new Hello, Sailor, a beachy, modern tribute to tradition on the shores of Lake Norman in Cornelius, North Carolina. The chef and restaurateur also went to work on one of his favorite fish camp snacks: the humble hush puppy, which he elevated almost to pastry with heirloom cornmeal and plenty of butter.

“I’ve always liked tearing my hush puppies in half and dunking them in butter,” Kindred says. “We fry these to order, so you get pieces of just-melted butter inside. They eat like beignets, with beautiful reddish-brown speckles from the cornmeal.”

Customers are on board. “People are telling me that the hush puppies are the new milk bread,” says Kindred, referencing the signature appetizer at his Kindred restaurant in nearby Davidson. G&G contributor and Southern Foodways Alliance director John T. Edge raved about them in our June/July issue. But you don’t have to visit the Tarheel State to find out what all the fuss is about, because Kindred has agreed to share his recipe with G&G.

Kindred serves these with tart-and-spicy yuzu kosho butter, but honey butter is the traditional choice.


Ingredients

  • Hello, Sailor Hush Puppies

    • Canola oil, for frying

    • ¾ cup all-purpose flour

    • ¾ cup Jimmy Red* cornmeal

    • 1½ tsp. baking powder

    • 2 tsp. sugar

    • ¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

    • 1½ tsp. salt

    • ½ tsp. garlic powder

    • ¼ tsp. onion powder

    • 1 egg, beaten

    • 1 cup buttermilk

    • ½ onion, grated

    • 4 tbsp. cold butter, cut into small dice

    • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, for serving


Preparation

  1. Pour three inches of canola oil, or enough to cover a layer of hush puppies, into a deep-fryer or large stockpot. Heat oil to 350 degrees.

  2. While oil heats, combine flour, cornmeal, baking powder, sugar, and all spices in a medium mixing bowl. In another medium mixing bowl, combine egg, buttermilk, and grated onion.

  3. Fold wet ingredients into dry and mix until just combined. Then, carefully fold in the cold butter.

  4. Using an ice cream scoop, form balls and drop them into the hot oil. Cook for about three minutes, or until golden brown all over. Remove from oil and drain on paper towels for two minutes. Season with salt and pepper before serving.

  5. * No Jimmy Red cornmeal in the pantry? No problem. Use any fresh, coarse-ground meal. (Or click here to order Jimmy Red, from South Carolina’s Geechie Boy Mill.)

Recipe from Joe Kindred of Hello, Sailor and Kindred restaurant in North Carolina


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