Who knew you could make your own corn dogs? It’s easy, fun and delicious.
We’ve been serving these at our son’s birthday parties for years. It’s become a tradition. At his sixth, a guest (a grownup guest!) said, on biting into one, “Wow! I had no idea corn dogs could be good! I always thought corn dogs were disgusting!” He had more than one.
It’s a proud memory.
It just goes to show that when you make something yourself, out of real ingredients, the way it’s supposed to be made — well, real food is good. And if you want something really good to eat, your best bet is to make it yourself.
Our recipe, which we have tweaked over time, contains masa harina. That’s a corn flour that’s treated with lime. (Not lime the fruit, lime, the mineral.) It’s used to make traditional corn tortillas and tamales. The lime treatment makes the niacin in the corn available for the human body to utilize, and it also imparts a delicate, appealing flavor. A bit of masa harina in the batter, we discovered, makes for just the right consistency and taste.
When corn dogs are made right, they’re golden brown and crunchy on the very outside, then pleasantly corn bready just underneath, and give way to a juicy burst of succulent flavor as your teeth finally pierce the sausage skin.
Please don’t skimp on the dogs. Read the labels, just as I encourage you to do with absolutely every label on any item you pick up in a store. As with everything, look for short ingredient lists. If you see “mechanically separated chicken” on a label, put it down! That’s code for “stuff we previously would have thrown away, like feathers and beaks, when we were done with the chicken, but have figured out how to blend up and add a bunch of chemicals to extract the protein from.” It’s not what I call food. It’s what I call garbage that they’ve figured out how to sell.
Maybe you’ll have to spend an extra two or three dollars on a pack of hot dogs if you follow this advice. Real food costs more than fake food (when purchased at the same level of preparation). Divide those extra dollars among all the dogs in the pack and you’ll see it comes to only some cents for each dog. Then remember the last time you bought a similar item already cooked and in a bun (or on a stick), and what you paid for it. If you’re willing to shell out a few bucks for a single hot dog, why not for a whole pack of better ones?
Our favorite brands include Hebrew National, Nathan’s and Ball Park Franks.
Pack of hot dogs, the very best all-beef ones you can find
1/4 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup masa harina
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 to 2 tablespoons cornstarch in a shallow dish for dredging
Oil for frying, such as lard, coconut oil or peanut oil
Equipment that bears mentioning
Tall, narrow cup for dipping the dogs in batter
Cast iron Dutch oven or deep skillet for frying, or a deep fryer
Craft sticks (Popsicle sticks)
In a nutshell
Mix all dry. Mix all wet. Stir together. Dredge dog on stick in cornstarch. Fry.
Stir together the cornmeal, masa harina, flour, baking soda and salt in a mixing bowl. In another bowl, beat together the buttermilk and egg with a fork or whisk until well combined.
Thread the hot dogs onto the craft sticks. Roll the hot dogs in the cornstarch. The batter will stick nicely to the cornstarch surface; otherwise it might slide off.
Meantime, have your oil heated to 375°. Immerse the hot dogs in the oil. Just put the whole thing in there, stick and all.
Remove when batter has fried to a golden brown (not dark brown — remember the “golden”). Serve on its own or dip in mustard with each individual bite.