Corn has been around for centuries. When the Pilgrims arrived on the New England coast in 1620, the flour they brought with them had gone bad. Fortunately, the Indians taught the pilgrims to grow and grind corn, and these skills helped them survive. Many historic corn recipes have survived as well, and every region of the US seems to have its favorite.
In the south they are hushpuppies. Up north it’s johnnycakes. In the Southwest it’s tortillas. Fritters were also popular with chuckwagon cooks. The dough was easy to make on the go and the fritters were fried in a cast iron skillet or kettle.
Corn fritters used to be a mainstay in southern cooking. Then, for some unknown reason, his popularity waned. But this historic recipe is making a comeback. Today, fritters are a popular side dish and may contain zucchini, green onions, cilantro, and chili peppers. You can even find recipes for Southeast Asian fritters with soy sauce on the internet.
Some recipes call for meat. In the first cookbook “Joy of Cooking,” authors Irma s. Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker include a recipe for corn and ham fritters. Baking powder and beaten egg whites make the fritters rise. According to the authors, the liquid (water or milk) should be added quickly to the dry ingredients and over-mixing should be avoided.
Betty Crocker’s website has posted a recipe for Spicy Corn Fritters made with the original Bisquick mix, water, canned corn, and canned chili peppers. But my favorite recipe is from the “Good Housekeeping Cookbook,” a wedding gift my husband and I received decades ago. He makes puffy, golden fritters that are served with maple syrup. Add crispy bacon, ham or sausage, fresh fruit and you have a meal.
I have changed the recipe a bit. Instead of whole milk, I use skim and added sugar for sweetness. Here is the makeover version of the original recipe.
1 cup of normal flour previously sifted
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon low sodium salt
2 tablespoons sugar (or Splenda mix)
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/4 cup skim milk
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 1/2 cups whole kernel corn (canned corn drained or cut from the cob)
Oil for frying (canola or peanut)
In a large bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, and salad oil. Add corn. Whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ones, making sure the corn is evenly distributed. Pour the oil into an electric or cast iron skillet. Heat the oil until it reaches 365 degrees. Drop tablespoons of batter into the oil (do not overcrowd the pan) and fry until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Serve immediately with warm maple syrup or sugar-free syrup. Makes about 6 servings.
Copyright 2010 by Harriet Hodgson