You ever notice how, from one state to another, there can be drastic vocabulary differences?
I’m originally from the awesome state of Minnesota, where, for whatever reason, there are a few things that are just said differently. For example, growing up, I played Duck, Duck, Gray Duck instead of Duck, Duck, Goose. It wasn’t until I was in college that I learned about the goose business. And it’s the same way with corn dogs: In Minnesota, and especially at the Minnesota State Fair, these babies are Pronto Pups. Not that you can’t find a corn dog in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, but you’re more likely to encounter a pronto pup. It’s just the way it is.
But no matter what you call them, the hot-dog-wrapped-in-corn-batter-and-dipped-in-hot-oil is a quintessential fair food. It’s fried, it’s on a stick, and it’s delicious. After the dual appetizers of fried pickles and mac and cheese on a stick, a pronto pup (a.k.a. corn dog) dinner is just about perfect. So, here we go!
In the interest of not being laughed at by the blogosphere for my funny verbage, I shall refer to the pronto pups as “corn dogs.” To make my very own dogs, I followed the recipe and instructions over at A Cozy Kitchen.
- A plate full of cornstarch
- 2/3 cups of all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup of yellow corn meal
- 1 tablespoon of baking powder
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne
- 1 egg
- 3/4 cup of whole milk
- 4 hot dogs
To start, make sure your hot dogs are thawed and supple and ready for their big show. Turkey dogs were the only hot dogs we had on hand. Work with what you’ve got, I always say! While they were defrosting in the microwave, I started prepping. First, pour some cornstarch out onto a plate. This will (eventually) coat the dog and make the batter stick better.
Then, mix together all the dry ingredients for the batter (from flour to cayenne in the ingredient list). In another bowl, beat together the egg and milk. Then, quickly combine the wet and dry ingredients, mix gently until it just barely comes together – you’ll have a batter that looks like pancake batter. That’s good. It’s better to undermix in this case than to overmix, so the breading stays fluffy and tender. Trust me.
Now, the batter goes into a tall, skinny glass or cup. Then, the batter rests.
Now, the dogs are thawed. Skewer them (I used kabob skewers, but I hear that cheapo wooden chopsticks work wonders), and roll them in the cornstarch (tapping off the excess). And now’s also a good time to get your frying setup ready too. If you have a fryer, set it to 375 degrees and remove the basket. If not, heat two to three inches of vegetable or peanut oil in a heavy, deep skillet. It should reach 350 to 375 degrees.
Ready? This part moves fast: Dip the cornstarched and skewered dog into the glass full of batter and give it a few twists, so it’s all covered in batter. Then quickly, quickly slide it into the hot oil. The batter really won’t want to stick, so you have to move fast so the dog stays pretty well covered. Once it gets into the oil, it sets within a second. Let it fry up for about 5 minutes, or until golden brown. I had to turn my dog a few times with a set of tongs, so each side got equally golden.
When done, remove to a plate covered with paper towels to drain off the grease. Then slather in mustard and enjoy!
As my husband said, They’re dee-lish. The breading on these puppies are absolutely spot-on: Crispy and crackly on the outside, soft and spongy on the inside, the dog inside steaming after you bite into it. The corn-sweetness of the breading is a perfect contrast to the vinegary mustard, and the whole thing stays put on the skewer, thanks in part to the little nub of breading that ends up wrapping around the skewer. That’s one of my favorite parts of the corn dog experience, and the last bite on any good dog.
The only complaint I have was the turkey dog had a different taste than a regular beef dog does. But that was my own fault.
I suppose I could also complain that our grocery store doesn’t sell foot-long hot dogs, so I can’t make foot-long corn dogs. But then again, I could make a half-dozen of these (approximately) for the cost of a single fair dog, so I’ll let that slide.
DIY or Buy?
Yes. Both. During fair time, Buy — no trip to the State Fair is complete without a corn dog. It’s like going to France and avoiding wine, or going to Hollywood and ignoring celebrities: Wrong all around. But for the other 50-ish weeks out of the year, DIY is the only way to go. (Even if the bar down the road is selling them. DIY.)
Okay, obviously I have a special place in my heart for pronto pups/corn dogs. What is your can’t-miss-it fair/carnival/celebration food?