Corn Dogs

Aug 11, 2018


Norman Van Aken, © 2012

We had no food in our carnival beyond cotton candy, popcorn, a hot dog and cokes. The marriage of the polyglot ethnic foods that is so evident in carnivals and county fairs had dried up during this period in the early 1970’s. We were too far north for what might have been the luck for a good soul food entrepreneur to have joined us for a three day gig and the Hispanic community was still just churning out the magical flavors of its foods in the still uncrossed borders where they lived and we didn’t. It was a shame! It was just a dry season in that little window of history. You could go to a state fair and still find a lot of American fare cooked by junior leaguers and get plenty of what is much more bland food than I love...but we only lasted three days in each town and the communities we went to never seemed to know we were coming until the day our muddy, aging trucks pulled into an area of each town and we started to set up. It was not until after I got electrocuted on a Ferris Wheel and left the carnival, (oh yes the story is within) that I found the joy of making my own Carny Dogs.

    — Excerpted from “No Experience Necessary, the Culinary Odyssey of Chef Norman Van Aken”. (at your local bookstore or on Amazon).

Yield: 6 ‘dogs’.

6 hot dogs, bratwurst or other favorite sausages

1 Cup yellow cornmeal

1 Cup AP flour

. teaspoon kosher salt

. teaspoon cayenne pepper

. teaspoon black pepper

. teaspoon ground cumin

. Cup granulated sugar

4 teaspoons baking powder

1 egg, beaten

1 Cup milk

1/2 Cup buttermilk, (or as needed to make a smooth, thick batter)

1 quart oil, for frying

6 wooden skewers

Pre-heat the oil in a deep pot over medium heat to 350 degrees. In a medium large bowl combine the cornmeal, flour, salt, cayenne, black pepper, cumin, sugar and baking powder. Stir in the egg, milk and buttermilk. Set aside. Insert the wooden skewers into the sausages going at least ⅔ of the way up.

Roll them in the batter until well coated. Try not to coat the stick. Fry 2 to 3 at a time until golden brown.

Allow about about 3 minutes turning them over a few times. Drain on paper towels. Serve with your choice of condiments and/or sauce.