Posted by: njbrown | February 24, 2011

Emeril’s Hushpuppies and “Essence” (Bayou Blast)


Eight years of my life were spent living in parts of the South – the Washington, D. C. area, southern Virginia and coastal North Carolina.  At some time in those years, I discovered hush puppies, and have always enjoyed them since, although outside of the South I  have rarely found them.

I first remember being told on a visit to a historic plantation that cooks would toss bits of fried dough to the dogs that came into the kitchen looking for food.  However, Wikipedia gives a broader history:

Hushpuppies are a food with strong ties to the American South, although they are available in many areas of America on the menus of deep fried fish restaurants. The name “hushpuppies” is often attributed to hunters, fishermen or other cooks who would fry some basic cornmeal mixture (possibly that they had been bread-coating or battering their own food with) and feed it to their dogs to “hush the puppies” during cook-outs or fish-fries. Also, runaway slaves would feed them to the guard dogs of their owners in order to “hush the puppies”.

Other hush puppy legends purport to date the etymology of the term “hushpuppies” to the Civil War. Union soldiers are claimed to have tossed fried cornbread to quell the barks of Confederate dogs

All the snow has made me nostalgic for warmer places and food from them, so I began to search for hush puppy recipes.  The one that seemed best was Emeril’s, and I was delighted that the Food Network included his recipe for his famous “Essence” (aka Bayou Blast).  The digital cooking thermometer given to me by George to help in working with chocolate is a wonderful help in getting cooking oil to the right temperature, and the hush puppies were made without difficulty and were the proper golden brown.

Perhaps some things are better remembered, because I found Emeril’s hush puppies a bit bland without the Essence.  However, if you are craving hush puppies, I think these are worth making.  If I do them again, I will substitute regular onion and increase the amount.

I doubled the recipe for Essence and now have a generous quantity for using in chili, guacamole, etc. when I want to “kick the dish up a notch.”

Ingredients

  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • 1 1/2 cups yellow cornmeal
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/3 cup minced green onions
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • Essence, for seasoning, recipe below

Directions

  1. Pour oil to a depth of 3 to 4 inches and preheat to 370 degrees F.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cayenne. Whisk together the eggs, green onions, milk, and 1/4 cup of the vegetable oil. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture, stirring just until combined.
  3. Carefully spoon 6 or 7 rounded tablespoonfuls of the batter into the preheated oil. Fry the hushpuppies, in batches, until golden brown, stirring constantly for overall browning, 2 to 3 minutes per batch.
  4. Remove the hushpuppies and drain on a paper towel-lined plate. Season with additional salt and Essence, if desired. Serve immediately.
  5. Pour oil to a depth of 3 to 4 inches and preheat to 370 degrees F.
  6. In a mixing bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cayenne. Whisk together the eggs, green onions, milk, and 1/4 cup of the vegetable oil. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture, stirring just until combined.
  7. Carefully spoon 6 or 7 rounded tablespoonfuls of the batter into the preheated oil. Fry the hushpuppies, in batches, until golden brown, stirring constantly for overall browning, 2 to 3 minutes per batch.
  8. Remove the hushpuppies and drain on a paper towel-lined plate. Season with additional salt and Essence, if desired. Serve immediately.

Emeril’s ESSENCE Creole Seasoning (also referred to as Bayou Blast):

  • 2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme

Combine all ingredients thoroughly.

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