State Fair Fun

Corn Dogs

July 5, 2016

Here’s a little-known fact: Early corn-dog purveyor Ed Waldmire, Jr., wanted to call his corn-dog stand “The Crusty Cur”….his wife convinced him to change the name to “Cozy Pup.”  Like most other American fried-food-on-a-stick, batter-fried weiner wands have state fair connections. Vaudeville actors Carl and Neil Fletcher abandoned their Dallas song-and-dance act tent show in 1938 when the Texas State Fair offered them the chance to operate a food booth. The two had read about a man in the Oaklawn neighborhood of Dallas who was baking corn-battered hotdogs in molds, and the idea intrigued them, so the brothers set out to improve on the product. They perfected their batter-dipped and fried corn dog in time for the 1942 Texas State Fair.

Easy, portable and quick, corn dogs soon became fast-food-restaurant darlings. Cozy Dog Drive-in in Springfield, IL claims first-to-market status (1946) but restaurateur Dave Barham started selling at Hot Dog on a Stick in Santa Monica, CA, that same year.

Which of these had the “best” corn dog recipe? I dunno. But we are sure fresh-made corn dogs have a taste/texture that frozen reconstituted can’t match. Our recipe is a slight adaptation of the 1981 California rendition the LA Times published in its first-edition LA Times cookbook. You can swap buttermilk in for the milk and add a little spice, but we like them fine plain. Just be sure to have plenty of mustard to go along with. Use whatever dogs you like. But note: Choosing a sausage with a tougher casing means you’ll have to chomp harder to bite through.

 

Makes 6 to 10 corndogs, depending on size of the sausage you choose

Corn Dogs
Serves 6
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Ingredients
  1. 10 skinny frankfurters, or about six fat frankfurters
  2. 6 to 10 bamboo skewers snipped to a length that will allow skewered corn dog to fit in your fryer basket
For batter
  1. 1 cup flour
  2. 2 Tbsp sugar
  3. 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  4. 1 tsp salt
  5. 2/3 cup yellow cornmeal
  6. 2 Tbsp shortening (or melted bacon fat)
  7. 2 eggs, beaten
  8. 3/4 cup milk
For deep-frying
  1. Vegetable oil to the depth your deep-fryer specifies (probably at least five cups)
For dipping
  1. Mustard (ketchup optional)
Instructions
  1. Briefly cook or grill the hotdogs until hot. Wipe off any surface grease. Set aside.
  2. Sift flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together. Using a fork, stir in cornmeal. Cut in shortening until mixture is like wet sand. Whisk egg with milk. Stir into cornmeal mixture. Heat oil to 375 degrees. Skewer each sausage. One at a time, spread thick batter on to the outside of a skewered sausage. This is the only “hard” part–don’t worry if it’s a little bit uneven or bumpy. Place cornmeal coated sausage in hot-fat fryer for 2 minutes; turn the sausage over and cook for 2 more minutes. Remove to paper toweling. Blot on paper. Serve hot, with mustard.
Notes
  1. Like most other American fried-food-on-a-stick, batter-fried weiner wands have state fair connections.Our recipe is a slight adaptation of the 1981 California rendition the LA Times published in its first-edition LA Times cookbook. You can swap buttermilk in for the milk and add a little spice, but we like them fine plain. Just be sure to have plenty of mustard to go alongside.
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