Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Perfect Starter: Lucky 32's Sweet Potato Hushpuppies

See related story about Chef Jay Pierce and the fried chicken special at Lucky 32.

Like Jay Pierce’s journey to develop the ultimate fried chicken for Lucky 32, the sweet potato hushpuppies took several detours before landing on the appetizer menu.

“The truth?” Pierce said with a born storyteller’s glint in his eyes. “They started out as pumpkin ravioli.”

Before Lucky 32 expanded its name last year to include Southern Kitchen, it reduced the scope of its former global-cuisine menu. One of Pierce’s first targets with the fated ravioli.

“Actually, it was summer and winter squash in the same dish. Blasphemous!” he said with a shudder.

Pierce knew he wanted to modify the recipe to keep it seasonal, so he tweaked it several ways before he felt he’d found a tasty alternative: Deep-fried pumpkin ravioli in a ham cream sauce.

“Everyone loved it but the owner,” he recalled. “I mean, he liked it, but he said, ‘It’s not Southern.’ He told me, ‘You can do better.’”

Pierce went back to the drawing board and his culinary awakenings in Florida and the Gulf Coast. There, he said, hushpuppies are big and fluffy -- “not the scrawny Civil War rations” found in some North Carolina eateries.

“Some people think they’re not really hushpuppies because they’re bigger and less sweet,” he said. “They taste like what they are: earthy sweet potatoes.”

The dark, crispy globes are served atop a pool of creamy ham sauce scattered with green onion. Light and savory, they are a perfect start for a fried chicken dinner.

Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen’s Sweet Potato Hushpuppies

Disclaimer: All our recipes were originally designed for much larger batch size. This recipe has been reduced – but not tested at this scale. Please adjust as to your taste and portion size. Copyright 1989-2012 This recipe is property of Quaintance-Weaver, Inc. Unauthorized commercial use is forbidden.

2 cups roasted sweet potatoes
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 1/3 cup yellow corn flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoons allspice
¾ cup green onions, chopped
½ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon ground mustard
8 eggs

Mix all ingredients in a mixer with paddle attachment until well combined.

Refrigerate till cold.

Drop desired size hushpuppies into a deep fat fryer and cook until done.

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