This was probably the hands–down favorite recipe I made with Zukezilla. With a name like Squash Puppies (served with Roasted Jalapeño Mayonnaise, no less), what would one expect? Even though I substituted zucchini for the called–for yellow squash, it turned out exactly as Rebecca gushed about over at Ezra Poundcake. And she’s about as southern as they come, talking about a recipe from another favorite southern chef of mine: Sara Foster. Simply put, they both know their hush puppies!
I was really happy to find this recipe. I love fried food (unfortunately), and usually only eat it when we’re dining out. Let’s face it, it’s messy to make and usually requires more oil than I’m willing to use once and then throw out. I do own a deep fryer, but can count the amount of times I’ve used it recently on one hand. Half of a hand even. How about just one finger?! Let’s just say that I prefer fry recipes that can be cooked in frying pans with minimal inches of oil rather than mini hot tubs of it. This recipe fits the bill.
No one would ever guess that this has zucchini in it, which makes it a great way to use up all those alien zucchini that might be multiplying at the speed of light in your summer garden. Given the spices in it and the texture of the zucchini, everyone thinks they’re eating an apple dessert (especially when you serve it warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!). I like to go all out and drizzle some salted caramel sauce on top, too. Believe me when I say that the ice cream and caramel sauce elevate this dessert to a new level of comfort food!
The flavor of these little gems is fantastic and satisfies any crispy craving you might have. The zucchini adds a slight sweetness that compliments the flavor of the cornmeal. (As I mentioned, the original recipe called for yellow squash. Zukezilla subbed–in quite nicely!) I’m considering adding some cooked corn to the mix the next time I make these (and there will be a next time, they’re that addictive!) for even more al dente fun.
Don’t even think of making these squash puppies without the roasted jalapeño mayo! The roasted jalapeños give this dipping sauce just the right amount of heat and the taste, when combined with the cilantro, scallion, garlic, lime and basil flavors, really works well with the slight sweetness of the zucchini. It’s a match made in heaven! Also consider using this sauce as a more flavorful alternative to mayonnaise on sandwiches and burgers…you name it. I might even give it a go for use in deviled eggs (then they’d really be devilish!).
WI wine recommendation: Given the spiciness of the dipping sauce, you’ll need a wine that won’t compete in flavor. So avoid tannic red wines and oaky whites; also ones with high alcohol content. It’s better to choose fruity whites or slightly sweet wines like Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, rose or sparkling wine. We enjoyed this with MacMurray Ranch 2010 Pinot Gris (that would be as in actor Fred MacMurray of My Three Sons fame……who knew Fred was such a wine imbiber!).
Squash Puppies with Roasted Jalapeño Mayonnaise
(adapted from Ezra Poundcake, who adapted it from Sara Foster’s Southern Kitchen)
2 cups self–rising yellow cornmeal
3/4 cup self–rising flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 medium zucchini (about 1 pound), minced
3/4 cup well–shaken buttermilk
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons grated onion
1 jalapeño pepper, cored, seeded and minced
Grapeseed or vegetable oil, for frying
1 cup roasted jalapeño mayonnaise, for dipping (recipe below)
Roasted Jalapeño Mayonnaise:
3 jalapeño peppers
1 tablespoon extra–virgin olive oil
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup fresh cilantro
1 trimmed and chopped scallion
2 smashed garlic cloves
Juice of 1 lime
6 fresh basil leaves
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 200° F. Line a baking sheet with a brown paper bag.
Combine the cornmeal, flour, sugar, salt and pepper in a large bowl.
In a separate bowl, stir together the zucchini, buttermilk, eggs, onion and jalapeño.
Pour the buttermilk mixture into the cornmeal mixture, and stir just until moistened. (Overmixing will make the hush puppies tough.) Let the batter sit for 15 minutes, undisturbed, at room temperature.
Fill a saucepan, Dutch oven or an electric skillet with oil 1–3 inches deep, and heat over medium–high heat to between 350° and 375° F.
Spoon the batter into the hot oil about 1 tablespoon at a time, using two spoons or a 1 tablespoon ice cream scoop. Working in batches of 6 to 8 squash puppies, fry, turning several times with a slotted spoon or frying utensil, until crispy and golden brown all over (about 2–3 minutes).
Using a slotted spoon, carefully remove the squash puppies from the pan, and drain on the prepared baking sheet. Place in the oven to keep warm while cooking the remaining puppies. Makes about 36 puppies. Serve hot with Roasted Jalapeño Mayonnaise (recipe below) for dipping.
Roasted Jalapeño Mayonnaise
Roast the jalapeños by first, preheating the oven to 400° F.
Place your jalapeño peppers on a rimmed baking sheet, and drizzle with olive oil. Roast for about 20 minutes, until the skin is blistered and slightly brown. Remove from the oven, and set aside. When the peppers are cool enough to handle, peel them, and discard the skin, seeds and core. Set aside.
Place mayonnaise in a food processor. Add roasted jalapeño peppers, cilantro, scallion, garlic, lime juice, basil, salt and pepper. Puree until smooth. Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 1 week. Makes about 2 cups.