By Ryan McKay
There is a time and place for everything, even for active firefighters like us. As I’ve added weapons to my “culinary quiver,” I’ve developed a taste for the progressive dish, the one pushing the eatable envelope, the ones that make you, well, think. But every once and a while, I just have to get back to the basics and fry something.
Sorry, don’t judge me. Really, this isn’t an “every week” kind of thing; maybe once (or twice) a year, usually coinciding with a major sports event, perhaps the first NFL game of the season?
Now, I’ll admit, I’m not a huge fan of the fair, and how can one blame me when I grew up minutes away from Disneyland (one of the true loves of my life). But, oh, I do like their food: Roast turkey leg, pretzels, churros, funnel cakes, and the famous corn dog. What’s not to like? So, it made me smile when a fellow firefighter asked for a corn dog recipe.
Corn dogs splice together some of the best of American food—corn bread batter with the all-beef hot dog. It’s a combo that anyone would love (and all ages seemingly do). I feel as though when one eats a corn dog, he’s transported to memories of carefree times, when the only thought running through his mind was which ride to go on next.
A few after-the-fire critiques: If you are using sausage (pigs in a blanket on a stick) or thicker dogs then the grocery store norm, you’re more then welcome to par cook them before frying them. They are many a dipping sauce: honey mustard, barbeque, and so on, this is half the fun of the whole corn dog experience. Lastly, I added funnel cake bites with any extra batter as a way to finish off the meal.
Hotdogs (6 cut in half)
Cornmeal (1 Cup)
A/P Flour (1 Cup)
Sugar (¼ Cup)
Baking Powder (1 Tbs.)
Corn Starch (1 Tbs)
Salt (1 tsp.)
Buttermilk (1 Cup)
Pepper (a few cracks, trust me)
Vegetable Oil (1-1½ liters)
Sriracha Dipping Sauce
Ketchup (3 Tbsp.)
Sriracha (1 Tbsp.)
Soy Sauce (2 tsp.)
Ginger (freshly grated, 1 tsp.)
Pepper, freshly cracked
*Cinnamon Funnel Cake Bites (*optional if time permits)
Sugar (¼ Cup)
Cinnamon (1 tsp.)
Espresso Powder (⅛ tsp.)
Deep Dish Pan or Cast Iron Pan
Medium and a few Small Bowls
Deep Fry/Candy Thermometer
Tall, Narrow Glass or Cup
In a deep dish pan/cast iron, pour on the oil until it reaches two inches deep and heats to approximately 375°F (verify this with the thermometer and/or test with a piece of bread if one is not available).
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl through a sifter, add the flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt, and baking powder. Mix until it incorporates. Add the egg and buttermilk and mix until it just comes together (small streaks of dry ingredients is optimal). Let it stand for 10 minutes. Pour into the glass (as much as will allow leaving an inch or two free for dipping) and reserve.
When the oil is ready, dip the hot dog in the batter until covered and then, using a spinning motion, slowly dip into the hot oil. Continue to spin until the outside of the batter has set then continuing golden brown. Place on a paper towel-lined plate to soak up any excess oil, then serve immediately. They can be staged in a warmed oven for a little while.
Sriracha Dipping Sauce
In a small bowl, add the ketchup, soy sauce, sriracha, ginger snd cracked pepper and mix till combined. Reserve.
*Cinnamon Funnel Cake Bites
In a small bowl, add the sugar, cinnamon, espresso powder, and salt, then mix to combine. Place the leftover batter in a plastic zip bag, clip off the tip, and then stream it in the hot oil. Using a spider, fish the bites out of the oil when it reaches a golden brown color. Place on a paper towel-lined plate for a few seconds, then dip into the bowl of sugar. Toss to coat, then serve immediately.
Ryan McKay is a 12-year fire service veteran and a firehouse cook from Atlanta, Georgia. His goal is to bring the fast-paced lifestyle of the fire service with the slow-paced art of cultivating family and crew through the tool that is food. He has made an appearance on NBC’s primetime show “Food Fighters,” is a co-founder of the Metro Atlanta EMS Conference, and works intimately with the SafePath Child Advocacy Center.