Aged-Cheddar Hush Puppies

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Yield: Servings: 8 to 10

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As Cheddar ages, its flavor sharpens. The mildest are aged for only 2 to 3 months, but Cheddar can be aged for upwards of 2 years or more.

Ingredients

2-3/4 cups (6-3/4 oz.) fine stone-ground cornmeal (preferably Indian Head)

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1-1/2 tsp. granulated sugar

Fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

2 large eggs, beaten

1-1/2 cups well-shaken buttermilk

1/2 cup whole milk

1-1/2 cups coarsely grated aged Cheddar, preferably Kerry Gold (use the largest holes on a box grater)

1/4 cup finely sliced chives

8 to 10 cups vegetable oil, for frying

Instructions

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 200°F. Set a wire rack over a rimmed baking sheet. Set aside.

Whisk together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, 1-1/2 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. pepper, the baking powder, and baking soda in a large bowl. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, and milk. Fold in the cheese and chives with a spatula. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and fold together gently until just combined. The batter will be very thick. Let the batter sit for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, affix a deep fat/candy thermometer to the side of a 5-1/2- to 6-quart Dutch oven or other heavy-duty pot. Pour in the oil and heat to 350°F.

Using a 1-1/4-inch ice cream scoop, scoop slightly heaping balls of batter and gently lower into the hot oil. Fry 6 to 8 pieces at a time so as not to overcrowd the pot. Fry to a deep golden brown, about 3 minutes. If the balls begin to stick together during the frying process, gently separate them with a slotted spoon.

Remove the hush puppies from the oil and keep warm on the prepared rack in the oven until all the hush puppies are fried. Serve right away.

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