‘They think we’re all gonna drown down here. But we ain’t going nowhere.’
There are plenty of forces of nature at work in The Bathtub; but none as scene stealing as Hushpuppy herself. It’s not the easiest thing being six, having an absent unwell father (no matter how whimsical his name), the memory of a mother so beautiful she caused the stove to ignite, biblical weather events and the looming spectre of defrosting wild beasts. Yet right here you’ll find a snack as stoic as their namesake. A hushpuppy (a Southern savoury cornmeal doughnut) was rumoured to be dubbed so because it could be tossed to camp dogs to quiet them. These clouds of crisp and squish; corn, oil and air are just the thing to hush the hunger in your belly or the worry in your heart. If times are mean, eat them plain. If there’s an abundance of crab to beast then fill them with spindles of fresh meat. Otherwise turn to pieces of chicken, alligator, or- just maybe- if you’ve managed to subdue the ancient beastly pigs (aurochs) that are stalking you, add some small segments of seasoned boar to the batter. Gently coerce the mix together into balls, then plunge them into boiling oil and watch how they instinctively float straight to the top.
Eat them straight away, or wrap them in paper and cart them across the sea to someone you love. If there’s one thing you can be sure of; this is a feast that is a darn sight better than having to resorting to cat food and water for dinner again.
Wild Boar Hush Puppies
Makes 24-28 hush puppies.
1 deep fryer, or high sided pan for deep frying and a thermometer. Slotted spoon. Paper towel. Fry pan.
Vegetable oil (for deep frying, about 5 cups)
325 grams/3/4 pound wild boar meat diced into small pieces (can substitute pork fillet, skinless chicken thighs or alligator)
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 x 15 ounce/400 gram can creamed corn
2 eggs, beaten
3 shallots/spring onions, minced
1 tablespoon of cayenne pepper
1 cups self raising flour
1 cup cornmeal or polenta
½ teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
Mayonnaise or chilli sauce to serve.
1. Heat oil to185 C/ 365 F in a deep fryer, or a high sided pan.
2. In another fry pan add the tablespoon of olive oil and sautee the pieces of wild boar in batches until it is browned and cooked. Set aside.
3. In a large mixing bowl combine all the other ingredients and mix well.
6. Cook 6-8 of the hush puppies at a time. Cook for around 5 minutes, until golden brown.
7. Remove when cooked with the slotted spoon and place on paper towel to drain. Sprinkle with a little extra salt before serving.
Nb, these can be made ahead of time, frozen and then reheated on trays in the oven. Serve with mayonnaise, sour cream, chilli sauce if you like things hot and some chopped spring onions.
For some excellent reviews of Beasts of the Southern Wild go here.