Dispatches From Whitcomb Street

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tiny corn dogs (yes, really)

We asked Desiree what she wanted for dinner. Corn dogs, she said. Okay, we said. Corn dogs you shall have.

Never mind the fact that I’d never made corn dogs, could not really remember the last time I *ate* a corn dog, wasn’t really sure I even liked corn dogs aside from State Fair and boardwalk-related use cases. 

But! It turns out you can absolutely make really cute, fair-worthy corn dogs at home. They are easy and quick, ideal for a snacky thing before dinner proper. If you look for super-tasty, high-quality sausages, they’re really no worse for you than any other fried thing. Who knew?

Tiny corn dogs

Cut 16 oz of high-quality, nitrate-free beef frankfurters (we really liked this local-to-us, minimal-ingredient brand) into 3 or 4 pieces each, depending on length. You want your pieces to be about 1.5” long for good 3-bite dogs. Stick each on a skewer segment or a toothpick. We had these great wide fruit picks from the Asian market—they hold the food securely on two prongs, so it can’t spin around.

Heat a quart of high-heat oil in a deep pot until it hits 365F.

Whisk together:

  • 1/2 c yellow corn meal
  • 1/2 c AP flour
  • 1 tbsp and 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • a healthy grinding of black pepper

In a deep, narrow bowl. 

Combine a large egg and a cup of buttermilk. Add it to the dry ingredients and mix until everything is incorporated. The batter should be the consistency of thick pancake batter—thick enough to cling in a thick layer all over each sausage.

One by one, dip sausages into the batter (make sure the batter covers all the way up to the stick!), shake off excess batter, and lay them carefully in the hot oil. Put four corn dogs in and then turn the ones in the pan. They’ll have puffed up immediately and started browning fast, thanks to all the sugar in the batter.

Cook until golden on the other side, just another 45 seconds or a minute, and pull out of the oil and onto racks to drain. Hold in a 200F oven while you cook the rest of the corn dogs.

TIPS

  • These suckers cook fast. All you need to do is brown them; it took me a while before I started to hit the timing groove and didn’t overcook them.
  • In the same vein, you want to turn the dogs in the oil before the underside is cooked hard. If you wait too long, the uncooked top will be so much lighter than the bottom that the dog will just turn itself back every time you try to turn it over. 
  • Try to handle the cooked dogs by the stick—the batter crust is delicate and will show tong marks.
  • Skim out floating bits and bobbles of batter between batches so they don’t burn and make your oil gross.
  • Serve with mustard, honey mustard, and possibly ketchup (we had some spicy, aromatic home-canned ketchup with star anise and ginger). These will be gobbled up immediately and indiscriminately by the dignified and undignified alike, so make a lot.  
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