Let me start this one with a shoutout to my friends Merdan and Torre at The Corner Bar on Elliston Place in Nashville. If you pop in at the right time, you might just find me working the grill there! They are the inspiration for this recipe… and the dudes who gave me the Habaneros for this recipe!
And I might as well also give a shoutout to Adam Richman at Man V. Food. I saw this first on his show and decided to come up with my own recipe for these spicy demons. This is the signature appetizer at Salvador Molly’s in Portland, Oregon. But my recipe seems a bit more tame, for anyone who witnessed Adam’s masochistic act on the show!
You will need a box of cornbread mix (and the necessary ingredients. Some require just water, some milk, some egg, etc), butter, sugar, an egg, breadcrumbs, onion, spices, and the great Habanero! You will also need a deep fryer.
Habaneros are the hottest peppers you can commonly find and eat in the US, reaching up to 300,000 Scoville Units (units of spiciness). They are extremely hot, but also very sweet and flavorful. You can sometimes find them in Chili and hot sauces in restaurants and supermarkets.
For this recipe I used six large Habaneros. You can use more or less depending on your heat preference. The ones I made were pretty darn spicy, but not insanely hot. Throw them into a food processor with half a cup of onion and puree finely.
(if you are sensitive to heat, try not to breathe deeply. The aroma can burn your nose!)
Prepare the cornbread in a large bowl as per instructions on the box. Add a quarter cup of butter, a few tablespoons of sugar, the egg, and your habanero/onion mix.
You will need about a cup of breadcrumbs for the recipe. Use whichever type you like, but I prefer the ones I made for the Meatloaf recipe. Take some bran flakes and grind them in the food processor. When pulverized, stir them into the mix.
(I actually used raisin bran. The scattered raisins were a pleasant addition to the fritter!)
Add some spices too. Salt, pepper, and oregano are the basic staples, but you can also add garlic, basil, and anything else you can come up with!
Mix everything together well. You are now ready for cooking.
Using a ladle, I scooped out several balls of the mix and dropped them into the fryer. I didn’t have one, but I’d recommend using an ice cream scoop, as it will release a better sphere.
With a long spoon, rotate the fritters until golden brown on all sides. When ready, lift the basket. If you see batter seeping out through the wires, they’re not done yet, so put it back quickly! When they are finally done, keep in the basket for the oil to drip.
Let cool for a few minutes, and there you go!
Another hint I might suggest would be to put the batter in the freezer for a short while before frying it. Keep an eye on it, you don’t want it to freeze solid, just enough for it to clump together better. Think more ice cream consistency than cornbread batter. I did this quick without this step, and some of the larger ones fell apart upon hitting the oil. You could also toss them in a pan or griddle for a few seconds before throwing them into the fryer – just long enough to solidify the outside. They’ll be more pancake-shaped, but they’ll fry up better if you’re in a rush.
These came out as a spicy, crispy, sweet snack that was perfect for a day of football with the guys. When you bite into them, the heat comes on strong and heavy, but fades rather quickly. This isn’t the type of heat that will ruin your day or make you bowl over your friends for the faucet. But you might want to have a beer or glass of milk ready for the kick you are about to receive!
Enjoy the burn!