Thursday, November 12, 2009

Corn Dogs

Today we're making something you can typically only find in a box in your frozen foods section at the grocery store, or even better, at your state fair. I tried making these delicious corn dogs once a long, long time ago... and they were a flop. I've recently learned a few tips and tricks (thanks, Alton Brown!) and decided to try, try again.

First, you'll start your batter. Mix buttermilk (see below for a substitution!), eggs, oil, sugar and salt in a bowl.

Add corn meal, flour, and baking powder.

Mix it up so it's nice and... yellow.

Now, skewer your hot dogs on a stick. Alton Brown recommends Chinese takeout chopsticks (not broken apart), but all I had was skewers. They worked okay, but I can see the benefit of the two chopsticks. Pat your dogs dry and roll in flour so the batter will stick.

Pour your batter into a tall cup and dunk your hot dogs.

You'll want to swirl it around a bit and scrape off the excess. Fry them up in pan of hot oil, a few at a time. Turn them once the bottoms get brown. When fried, place them on a kitchen towel to absorb some of the oil. Of course, Alton Brown recommends a deep fryer, and I bet they would be easier that way. However, we all gotta work with what we got, right? If you have one of those fancy machines, heat your oil up to 375 degrees.

And here they are, in all their glory. Next time I might try to use corn flour. My stepkids weren't home when I made these, but I know my stepdaughter would have pretty severe issues with the crunch from the corn meal. Corn meal and corn flour are the same, corn flour has just been ground more. These were really crispy. I have yet to find a recipe that gives me the nice "breaded" corn dog I'm always looking for. Delicious though, and a fun project! Kids would love the "mini corn dogs" the recipe suggests at the end.

Buttermilk substitution: pour just shy of 1 c. milk. Add enough vinegar or lemon juice to make 1 c.

Corn Dogs

1 cup buttermilk
2 medium eggs
1/4 cup oil
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/3 cups corn meal
2/3 cup flour
1 to 1-1/2 pounds hot dogs
flour for dusting (about 1/2 cup)
Oil for Frying
Popsicle sticks, Chop Sticks or Wooden Meat Screwers

In a large bowl combine the buttermilk, eggs, oil, sugar and salt. Mix it very well. Sprinkle in the baking powder, corn meal and flour. Stir it all up to make a slightly thick batter. Take your hot dogs and dry them off on paper towels. Dust the hot dogs with flour, coating them completely. The cornmeal batter won’t stick to the hot dogs unless they are coated in flour. The batter just slides right off of the wieners naturally slick outsides. Shove Popsicle sticks into the flour coated hot dogs. Set the hot dogs aside. While all of this is going on, it’s a good idea to get the oil heated up. You want the temperature to be about 375°. Allow the oil to preheat so it is almost smoking by the time you are ready to add the corn dogs. Now, to coat the floured hot dogs with batter you have two choices. You can swirl the hot dogs in the bowl of batter until they are coated, and then drop them into the hot fat. If this is a little difficult I know of an easier way. Scoop some of your corn meal batter into a narrow jar or cup which is as tall as your hot dogs are long. Fill the jar or cup about 3/4 of the way full.

Dip your hot dog into the batter while you hold onto the stick. Swirl the hot dog to coat it evenly. Be careful or the batter will overflow. Raise the wiener above the cup and let any excess batter drip off. Quickly place the battered dog into the hot oil. The fat (oil) will bubble up and cook the outside of the batter, making the corn dogs the exact same shape as the ones you buy at the store. Only fry a few corn dogs at a time. If the corn dogs crowd each other they don’t fry very well. I only fry 2 or 3 at a time. Turn the corn dogs when the bottom side is well browned. Use tongs to remove the cooked corn dogs from the fat (oil). Allow them to drain on paper towels. Repeat the process, coating and frying a few at a time, until all of the corn dogs are cooked. Refill the narrow jar or cup with batter from your bowl as necessary. Continue until all the hot dogs are coated or until you no longer have enough batter to coat the hot dogs efficiently. If you don’t want to waste any unused batter, it can be dropped by small spoonfuls into the hot fat (oil), and fried until brown. Serve these along side the corn dogs.

If desired, you can make small corn dogs by cutting hot dogs into thirds, or quarters. Poke a toothpick up into the end of the hot dogs. Coat and fry them as described above. These are nice for fancy days, and for kids parties. Provide plenty of ketchup and mustard for dipping.This recipe makes about 12 to 14 corn dogs.

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