The Golden Ratio To Memorize For Tender Hush Puppies

When eighteenth-century French nuns came up with something called croquettes de maise in New Orleans, the recipe spread throughout the South quicker than butter on a hot piece of cornbread. So, it stands to reason that the savory treat's pedigree comes with a history, including a certain stealth mode used during the Civil War: The delicacies were fed to howling dogs to quiet them down; hence, the fried balls of cornmeal-based dough were renamed "hush puppies." 

These days, the fried morsels are served as a popular side dish for fried fish, barbecue, and other Southern cuisine staples. There's even a style of prepared seafood called Calabash originating in the fishing town of the same name in Brunswick Islands, North Carolina, where hush puppies are basically a requirement. But, if you've ever fried up a batch at home, you know the ratio of cornmeal to flour in the recipe is crucial. 

If you use too much meal, the hush puppies won't hold together during the frying process. If you use too much flour, you might as well consider the morsels a doorstop because they're so dense that even shushing a barking dog safely is doubtful. Yet, finding that perfect balance for a tender hush puppy isn't as tricky as you might think. It comes down to simple math.

The Golden Ratio

Unlike cornbread, which requires a skillet, hush puppies are self-contained balls of fried dough; the batter also isn't as loose. That said, no matter how large the batch you make, a three-to-one ratio is the only formula you should memorize for these fried treats. That's three parts cornmeal and one part flour.

A born-and-raised Southerner eyeballs the other ingredients because it is highly likely that MawMaw taught them her secret recipe. But, if yours didn't bestow her hush puppy wisdom upon you, there are all sorts of variations. Although, most of them require buttermilk, eggs, and copious amounts of oil for deep frying. You may find that the recipe also lists sugar on the ingredient list. But, consider this your public service announcement — a true Southern cook would never commit such an offense. That's why the sweetener is often listed as an optional add-in.

Once you have drained the golden brown hush puppies from the deep fry, come and get them while they're hot! You can always leave the cold leftovers for your pup, even if your four-legged friend doesn't need hushing at all.