Thursday, August 13, 2009

Hushpuppies, Beignets or Fritters

Just last weekend a bride asked me to make her Hushpuppies for her wedding; it had been a long time since I last made them, so I had to do a little bit of studying to make sure I got them just right. Which in turn led me beignets and fritters, but we'll get back to that in a moment...

Her recipe (with a couple minor tweaks, I'll admit) was wonderful and so light they would float off your plate, and it will be my hushpuppy recipe in the future.

1½ cups Yellow Cornmeal
½ cup Flour
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Sugar
2 Tbl Baking Powder
1 tsp Baking Soda
⅛ tsp Cayenne Pepper
¼ tsp Freshly Ground Black Pepper
2 Eggs (beaten with enough Buttermilk to make 1 ¼ cups)
2 Tbl Vegetable Oil
½ cup Finely Chopped Green Onion
Peanut Oil for frying

Sift all the dry ingredients together
Stir in the eggs & buttermilk and veg oil and onion
Fill the skillet with 2 inches of peanut oil
Preheat oil to 365 degrees
Drop the batter in teaspoonfuls into the oil
When they turn golden brown (about 4 minutes),
remove and drain on paper towels
Keep warm in the over for a few minutes if needed,
but serve as soon as possible
Yields about 4 dozen

This brought to discussion what are the differences in Hushpuppies, Beignets and Fritters.

Hushpuppies are the easiest since they are just a dollop of deep fried cornmeal dough, similar to corn bread usually made with cornmeal in a course texture. The dough is almost always savory not sweet but may be finished with a touch of powdered sugar.

Bengeits and fritters were harder. It comes down to batter vs. filling ratio. A fritter is anything battered and fried - banana or apple fritters, beef or chicken fritters (aka chicken fried steak or chicken fried chicken), even a corndog is technically a fritter. So a fritter is lots of filling and some batter.

A beignet would be batter with additions - shrimp, cheese or bits of diced fruit like apples. The additions are incorporated into the batter, not as a filling. So this is mostly batter with accents. This is not to be confused with the famous beignets from Café du Monde in New Orleans that are made from a dough not batter (which could be a whole other conversation).

And just to be perfectly unclear these terms are thrown around and used rather liberally on a lot of menus; I just had some lovely goat cheese fritters at Mirepoix in Windsor, but I'd call them beignets; just to say don't get too wrapped up in the name, they're all good.


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