This Fried Cheese Appetizer Might Be Better than a Mozzarella Stick

A staple of a Southern fish fry, these orbs of fried cornmeal batter hide a surprise inside: a cube of mozzarella cheese, which turns molten when the hush puppies are fried. Minced jalapeño chiles give the hush puppies a gentle heat. If you like things on the milder side, they can be omitted.—Jessica Battilana

Mozzarella-Stuffed Hush Puppies

Makes approximately 1 dozen

  • 2 cups fine cornmeal (yellow or white)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp minced jalapeño chile
  • 1.5 tsp kosher salt
  • .25 tsp ground black pepper
  • .75 cup milk
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 doz .5-inch cubes mozzarella
  • Vegetable oil, for frying

In a medium bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, baking powder, jalapeños, salt and pepper. Stir in the milk and eggs, and mix until a thick batter forms (the mixture will resemble wet sand). Scoop up a small amount of batter with your hand and form into a ball. Push a cube of mozzarella into the center and form the batter around it, enclosing the cheese completely. Repeat with the remaining batter and cheese until all of the hush puppies have been formed.

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Heat a 2-inch depth of oil in a high-sided heavy pan until it registers 365°F on a deep-frying thermometer. Add the hush puppies in batches, 3 to 4 at a time, and cook, turning frequently with tongs, until evenly golden brown, for approximately 4 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate, and let drain. Repeat with the remaining hush puppies, letting the oil temperature recover between each batch. Season with salt and serve warm.


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