Between glamping season and summer vacation, I decided to try my hand at dishes that I never eat. Already. Recently, I’ve welcomed some die-hard fans of fair trade food and accepted the challenge of making their favorite dishes – basically, food on a stick that has been fried to crispy perfection.
The basic dough recipe is based on The Pioneer Woman’s, which also advises saving leftover dough and making pancakes the next morning; I added blueberries and they cooked fluffy and with a bit of cornmeal crunch.
As for the dough itself, the challenge is to get the right consistency – neither too thick nor too runny, but more like heavy cream – so that it creates a nice, fine crunch on the outside without being too mushy. As with all fried foods, make sure your pan is large enough to avoid any setbacks. As I already had the fans on and the pot boiling, it seemed guests took it as a sign to fry and mix a variety of ingredients. Some neighbors rushed to their house and brought back handfuls of treats to cook with the dogs and cheese.
Lesson Learned: Almost anything is edible with the right dough and frying technique. However, I finally put the lid on the pot when someone mentioned fried donuts …
Homemade corn dogs and fried cheese
5 3/4 cups pancake mix, such as Krusteaz Original Mix
2 1/4 cups yellow cornmeal
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
4 to 6 cups of water
12 to 15 hot dogs, such as the Hebrew National Kosher Beef Francs
6 to 8 cheese sticks, such as cheddar and pepper jack
Vegetable oil, for frying
In a large bowl, combine pancake mix, cornmeal and black pepper. Stir just to combine. Add the eggs and start by incorporating 4 cups of tap water. Add a little water at a time and up to 2 more cups in total; you want the consistency to be thick enough to adhere to the hot dog without being lumpy or too runny.
Pour enough oil into a large, deep saucepan to at least 4 inches deep, making sure to leave enough room so that the oil does not boil when adding the dogs. Heat the oil to 360 degrees. In a deep plate or pie plate, add a little cornstarch. Pass the baguettes through the hot dogs and cheese sticks, leaving a few inches at the bottom to hold the stick.
Pour the batter into a tall glass. Lightly dip hot dogs and cheese sticks in cornstarch, patting or rubbing with fingers any excess cornstarch. (Note: you’ll want to test the oil. Add a little dough or flour; it should sizzle, dance, and float at a time.) When the oil is ready, gently dip the hot dogs one at a time. in the glass of paste and drop the whole dog, stick and all, in the hot oil. He should start dancing and sizzling right away. Repeat with two or three other corn dogs. Cook, turning gently with tongs or a spider, until golden brown, about 2 minutes. If the color is too rapid, reduce the heat slightly.
Remove oil on a paper towel-lined plate. Repeat with the remaining dogs, then the cheese sticks, frying them a few at a time and letting the oil come to the correct temperature between batches. Note that the cheese sticks will take a little less cooking time. Let cool slightly before serving with mustard or another favorite condiment.
Kim Sunée is the bestselling author of “Trail of Crumbs: Hunger, Love, and the Search for Home” and “A Mouthful of Stars”. For more food and travel, visit kimsunee.com and instagram / kimsunee.