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Test Kitchen: There's no dog like corn dogs

By By Jessica Rodrigo - JRODRIGO@VICAD.COM
March 6, 2013 at 2 p.m.
Updated March 5, 2013 at 9:06 p.m.

My favorite things to get at carnivals are corn dogs and funnel cakes. It's the only reason I visit carnivals, unless I feel like riding the rides. These mini jalapeno cheddar corn dogs are my take on the popular carnival fare.

Mini jalapeno cheddar corn dogs

• 6 hot dogs (your favorite brand), cut into thirds or smaller

• 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus enough to dredge the hot dogs

• 1 cup corn meal

• 1/2 to 1 jalapeno, seeded and diced

• 1/2 tsp. baking powder

• 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded or diced

• 1 egg

• About 3/4 cup milk

• Salt and pepper to taste

• Oil, enough to fill about two inches at the bottom of a pot

Combine the dry ingredients, jalapenos and cheddar in a mixing bowl. Incorporate egg completely before slowly adding milk. Use your judgement here, the batter should be slightly thicker than pancake batter (more or less milk may be needed). Heat cooking oil over medium-high heat in pot. Lightly coat the cut hot dogs in flour. Using toothpicks or wooden skewers (instead of fingertips), evenly coat hot dogs and drop into hot oil. Rotate mini corn dogs when they begin to brown and remove from oil when desired browning is achieved. Drain on paper towels, and serve with favorite condiment. I like to use ketchup.

No carnivals in the future? Try these variations

• Instead of diced jalapenos and shredded cheese in the mixture, try cutting a slit into one end of your hot dog and inserting the slivers of jalapeno and cheese.

•  Try a sweeter corn dog by omitting the jalapeno and cheese and substitute about 2 tbsp. of honey.

• Or serve your corn dogs with a side of chili and cheese. It's good, but maybe not good for you.

Carnivals conjure up a slew of thoughts: rides reeling in circles full of screaming children, lines of lights and loud, lively music and - my favorite - the smell of crisping corn dogs and frilly funnel cakes floating in oil.

Something about that crisp, yet fluffy, batter-coated hot dog makes my mouth water. But it's not just that, it takes me back to my childhood. After school, we would pull store-bought corn dogs out of the freezer and nuke 'em in the microwave for just long enough to heat it through, then throw them in the toaster oven to crisp the outside. It was the best.

Now, instead of buying the frozen version, I make my own - unless, of course, there is a carnival nearby. This recipe is easily adaptable, so get creative. Some people like their corn dogs sweet, some like them savory and others yet enjoy them spicy.

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