You did it! You made it through January with all of its food-restrictive, calorie-conscious goals and rules. Time to relax and watch a little bit of a certain Football Game and eat some fried meats! Yes, chicken wings are always welcome at a game-watching party, but wings lack carbs. If only there were a meaty, sausagey food that was wrapped in some kind of cake and THEN deep fried…
Hail the corn dog! Yes, the mainstay of the county fair, the glorious snack of youth, and the oft-mistreated and maligned staple of convenience store hot-rollers, the corn dog is an American delight that represents much about our culinary heritage: Sausages brought here and modified by German immigrants that have been coated in a cornbread batter (corn being the Great American Crop) and then fired and put on a stick for convenient carrying—a nod to the Henry-Ford-like efficiency of our industrial years. If there is a more American food, please comment below to say what it could possibly be!
In fact, the corn dog is so American, that in Japan, they are called American dogs.
So today, in honor of a certain American football championship, we’re going to give you a corn dog recipe based on those sold on Main Street USA in Disneyland, brought to use by The Stay at Home Chef. You’ll need your ChefAlarm® to fry them right, but you can make the batter in less time than it takes to heat your oil. Read on to learn how.
Corn Dog Basics
The perfect corn dog is always going to have a few key features: 1) There needs to be a stick. 2) It needs to be tasty. 3) There needs to be a good ratio of sausage to cake-y coating. 4) The coating needs to be well cooked, nicely browned, and crispy on the outside.
Part of the joy of the corn dog is that you can pick it up with your hands, eat it, and not get super messy. The stick heightens the appeal of the corndog by making it portable. Plus you can use it to point at the TV screen or your friends during the game, which is fun. A good corn dog stick must support the weight of the hotdog, and therefore can’t be too thin. It needs to be long enough to go 1/3 to 1/2 of the way into the hotdog and still leave enough stick outside to hold onto.
A common choice for the stick is a popsicle stick, and if you have access to popsicle sticks in bulk from a craft store or something, they work great. Another option, one that we went with, is to use disposable bamboo chopsticks. You may have to cut them down a bit to get them to the right length, but they are sturdy enough to handle the task well, and they’re very cheap if you can find them at a local Asian market.
To make sure your sticks are the right length, place one next to a hotdog so that about three inches sticks out beyond the hotdog. With a chef’s knife, or a pair of strong kitchen shears, cut the end of the stick so that only enough remains to go halfway into the hotdog. Use this stick as a template for all the other sticks and cut them all to length before you start spiking the sausages for frying.
Ensuring tastiness: the hotdog matters
Getting the tastiest corn dog starts with good ingredients, i.e. a good hot dog. Follow your own tastes, here, but if you buy a good quality dog, you’re already starting out yards ahead of the frozen dogs you get at the store or the gas station. All-beef dogs taste better and there is usually a little more care that goes into their making.
You can further customize your corn dogs by buying jumbo dogs for a higher meat-to-crust ratio, or regular thinner dogs for a lighter flavor. When you make them yourself, you get to choose!
A corn dog batter should be thick enough to adhere to the meat without dripping off, yet not so thick that you have to search for the hotdog inside all that bread. One recipe author uses the term ‘mud’ to describe the thickness that we’re looking for, and it’s not far off.
Of course, the classic corn dog is made with, well, corn. Cornmeal is used in the batter, in essence making a cornbread coating for the hotdog. We’ll go over one version of that below. But you can really let your imagination wander when it comes to corn dog batters. As long as you end up with the right thickness of batter, there’s really no limit to how you can decide to flavor it. Add seasonings if you like—chili powder or maybe your favorite BBQ rub. Maybe add a few dashes of hot sauce to pep things up a bit, or some good honey to make them sweeter.
You can dip the corn dogs in the batter-mixing bowl or, to ease the dipping and minimize the amount of batter needed, you can pour your batter into a tall, narrow cup (like a Big Gulp soda cup) that can accommodate the full length of the hotdog. Dipping the dogs in the batter then becomes super easy. We tried both methods and both worked well.
Frying corn dogs
As with all battered fired things we’re looking for a balance of doneness and speed. We want to cook corn dogs fast enough that they don’t become soggy and oil-logged, but not so fast that the outside is cooked before the whole thing can heat through. And, of course, the key to frying things correctly is always temperature control. We’ve written before about why the ChefAlarm is the best deep-fry thermometer you can own, and it’s still true. Its easy-read display, coupled with 1.8°F (1°C) accuracy and a wide range of available Pro-Series® Probes (including our 12” probe), takes the guesswork out of deep frying.
As we do for all deep frying, we’ll be setting out alarms to cover a range of temperatures. We’re shooting for a frying temp at 350°F (177°C) so we’ll set a high alarm at 360°F (182°C) and a low alarm for 335°F (168°C)—the temperature is going to drop when we add the corndogs, but we don’t want it to drop too far. By setting a low alarm like that, we know to increase the nead even more to counter the cooling effects of the frying. Use a pot clip with your included high-temp penetration probe to monitor the temperature of your oil as you cook the corndogs, adjusting the heat to maintain a steady temperature.
As you prepare for the Big Game, or even if you’re just looking for a fun dinner that your kids won’t complain about eating, consider trying these delicious corn dogs out!
Homemade Corn Dog Recipe
Based on the Disneyland Hand Dipped Corn Dogs recipe from The Stay At Home Chef
- 1 C corn meal
- 1 C all-purpose flour
- 2 Tbsp sugar
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 egg
- 1 – 1 1/4 C buttermilk (or substitute the same portion of milk with an added tablespoon of white vinegar)
- 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 8 hot dogs
- Popsicle or craft sticks or disposable bamboo chopsticks
- Vegetable oil for frying
- Heat 3-4 inches of frying oil in a heavy pot. Leave at least 2-3 inches of space to account for the oil boiling up.
- Attach a ChefAlarm probe to the side of the pot with a pot-clip and set the high alarm for 350°F (177°C).
Prepare the batter
- In a mixing bowl, stir together the dry ingredients for the batter.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, egg, and 2 Tbsp oil.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir to combine.
- If using a cup for dipping, fill it with the batter and reserve extra to refill as the batter is used.
Prepare the hotdogs
- Lay a hotdog next to a chopstick and mark where to cut it. Leave enough stick to support the hotdog and still have enough to hold in your hand.
- Cut the stick, then use it as a template for the other stick, and cut them as well.
- Skewer each hot dog.
Dip and cook the corn dogs
- When the oil comes to temp, adjust the high alarm to 360°F (182°C) and set the low alarm to 335°F (168°C).
- Dip the corndogs into the batter, turning them in the batter to ensure an even coating.
- Lift the battered hotdog from the batter and dab off any extra batter at the tip.
- Place the battered dog in the oil and repeat for a few more. Four per batch is about as big as you’d want to go.
- Let the corn dogs fry for 3–4 minutes each, turning them with tongs to ensure even browning. Adjust the heat as necessary to maintain the proper temperature
- Remove the corn dogs from the oil and let them drain on an elevated rack or several layers of paper towels.
- Repeat with remaining corn dogs.
- Serve with mustard and ketchup. (Though I usually oppose ketchup on hotdogs, corn dogs are a different matter!)
Once you try this recipe out, you’ll find that you want to make corn dogs at home all the time! They’re easy and absolutely delicious. The homemade breading is super tender and an amazing foil to the savory hotdog. Add the vinegary mustard and it’s perfect. And speaking of perfection, the ChefAlarm gives you the control and you need to execute these perfectly every time. Kickoff your party with an American treat that everyone will rave about long after the final touchdown!
Note: We mentioned the ‘American Dog” of the Japanese, and it’s worth noting that it is a fun and easy way to make corn dogs! Just One Cookbook gives a recipe for them made form Asian hotcake batter, made from a mix. They have a shatter-crispy coating that is sweeter than the version we’ve printed here that is intriguing and definitely worth a look.
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