I blame Gatton. You hear that, Gatton? I blame you! After my post about oven fried okra and hot pepper poppers, Gatton had to go and say the one word that would burrow under my skin and plant the seed of a food obsession: hushpuppies. Hushpuppies! I love hushpuppies! What southern girl doesn't love hushpuppies? I haven't had them in years. You can't really get a good hushpuppy up here on LI - and let me go on record saying that the hushpuppies at Long John Silver's are NOT good hushpuppies. Shudder.
So Gatton plants the hushpuppy seed and I have a big bowl of those gigantic hot peppers I wrote about before and my brain starts to put two and two together - hot peppers + hushpuppies = yummy!
Of course, a real hushpuppy is a lovely mixture of cornmeal, flour, baking powder and soda, eggs, and milk (along with salt and sugar and stuff) plopped by big spoonfuls into hot fat and fried until they're GBD (golden brown and delicious). It's like a big fried cornbread dumpling. It's so good. If you've been following me lately, you know I've been trying to cut down on my favorite food group (fried) by revamping recipes and baking foods until they are crispety and crunchety.
Oven-fried hushpuppies are pretty simple. Start with your favorite hushpuppy recipe and plop tablespoonfuls onto a greased baking sheet or into mini muffin cups and bake them up. I wanted to stuff my hushpuppies with big slices of hot pepper, so the free-form hushpuppy was not going to work for me. I opted for the mini muffin pan preparation, which resulted in hushpuppies that look like mini muffins - whatever - they tasted good.
I mixed up a box of my favorite cornbread mix (I told you, I love this stuff and it's so convenient) with less milk than I would use for cornbread or muffins and egg whites instead of a whole egg (I am trying to make this recipe just a bit healthier, don't you know). I then scooped a small amount of the hushpuppy batter into the (greased) bottom of each muffin cup. I sliced up some hot peppers and pressed the slices into the center of each cup, nestling them down into the hushpuppy batter.
Back to scooping batter - just enough to cover and seal in the pepper was plopped into each cup.
See how the peppers are still showing in some cups? I used a wet finger to push and press the batter around so that the pepper was sealed into the hushpuppy like a little surprise inside.
These baked in a 450 degree (Fahrenheit) oven for about twenty minutes (actually, I baked mine for nineteen minutes - I warned you about my prime number issues) until the tops started to brown and the bottoms were nicely browned.
My favorite hushpuppies are always the ones fried the darkest, so I like to bake mine nice and dark. I flipped over a couple for the picture above so you could see the color. Oh yeah. Those look good. So what if they look like mini muffins? They're hushpuppies I tell you! They are!
These are no ordinary hushpuppies, though. Remember the little surprise I tucked inside each of my little hushpuppy friends? These are hushpuppy/pepperpoppers - sweet and salty and spicy and good.
I made three dozen of these to use up all of my peppers. I used several boxes of corn bread mix in the process - good thing I keep them stocked up in my pantry. Two dozen are now nestled into my freezer, waiting for a cold night and a pot of vegetarian chili. I'll pop those little puppies into the oven while the chili bubbles away and serve them together, piping hot and spicy hot and everything my soul will need when there's snow on the ground.