This story begins with my love of baseball.
I know most of the players by name. And by nickname. I can talk trash with the best of them. I’ve caught one fly ball in my life and finagled countless others from catchers and umps. I watched Bonds hit most of his hundred-mark home-runs. I danced in the streets to celebrate the world series. And I dressed up as Brian Wilson for Halloween. The closer. Not the Beach Boy.
But my love of baseball would have never been without my love of corn dogs. Or nacho cheese. Or garlic fries, cotton candy, and other deeply processed, deeply delicious ballpark treats.
It was chicken fingers that first lured me to games and red ropes that kept me coming. And through these scrumptious snacks, I not only grew to adore the crack of a bat, but many different sports with their many different concession options.
On a low-sodium diet, though, these foods got benched. And it wasn’t until my recent trip to Long Beach for my photo session with Matt Armendariz that I started to reconsider adding them back into my life.
His first book, On a Stick, features eighty bite-sized party treats that all come on toothpicks, skewers, and even sugar canes for entertaining eating. And the first recipe I happened upon was his gorgeous homemade corn dogs. I knew right then and there that, when I had time and when I had a pan full of hot oil, I was going to tackle this recipe and bring the good old American corn dog back into my life.
Because here’s the deal: while it is commonly agreed upon that processed food is not good for your health (especially if you are on a low-sodium diet), it doesn’t mean that processed food is not good for your belly. In terms of taste, these treats are delicious. They are crave-worthy. They are comforting. They are tasty. And that’s why people are willing to fork over almost ten dollars for jumbled pig parts coated in cornmeal.
The truth is, junk food is yummy. And if you actually break down the concepts behind them–like filling a fluffy cake with creamy whipped goodness and calling it a Twinkie–there’s actually culinary genius at work. The only problem is the ingredients. And the simple answer is making everything from scratch.
That’s how we get these corn dogs. Salt-free. Hot dog free. Unprocessed flavor full. And definitely tastier than the originals.
With inspiration in hand, the only thing standing between me and Matt’s corn dogs was salt, whole milk, and jumbo hot dogs. So to kick out the salt and kick up the flavor, I decided to give them a curry twist. I also swapped Greek yogurt for the whole milk, but you can always use low-sodium So Delicious coconut milk (15 mg of sodium per cup) as well. And for the jumbo hot dogs, I made my own from ground pork.
Warning: the following picture contains raw meat.
After mixing the raw meat with herbs and salt-free spices, I baked them (stick included) until they firmed up and were sturdy enough for all that corn dog dipping ahead of them.
From there, it was back to Matt’s wonderful recipe. And a few quick dunks in hot oil later, I had one of my favorite ballpark treats back in my hands. Complete with salt-free ketchup and mustard.
And now it’s time for you to get your corn dog on and enjoy this most awesome food on a stick, without all that sodium.
Salt-free’d and adapted from On a Stick by the amazing Matt Armendariz
- 1/4 pound ground pork (63mg per 1/4 lb)
- 1 tsp curry powder
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp dried dill
- 1/4 tsp paprika
- 1/4 ground black pepper
- 2 medium eggs (62mg per medium egg)
- 2 tbsp + 3/4 cup all-purpose flour (you’ll use it two separate times in the recipe)
- 4 wooden skewers
- 1 qt (or 4 cups) vegetable oil
- 3/4 cup cornmeal
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt-free baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt-free baking soda
- Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
- 1/4 cup FAGE Greek yogurt (60mg per 6oz) + 1/2 cup water (or low-sodium coconut milk)
- Salt-free mustard for dipping pleasure
1. Preheat the oven to 425 dg F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a medium bowl, mix the ground pork with the spices, one egg, and 2 tbsp of flour. Make sure everything is well combined and that the meat batter is sticky but not runny and wet. Add more flour if needed.
3. Using your hands, create four hot dog-like mounds of the ground pork on your parchment paper and then place a skewer in each, threading it into the middle of the hot dog and pushing it until it is just below the top.
4. Place the baking sheet with the hot dogs into the oven and cook for 20 to 25 minutes, until the meat has browned. Remove the baking sheet and let the hot dogs cool.
5. Now, onto Matt’s recipe. Preheat your oil in a large, heavy pot over medium-high heat.
6. As the temperature rises (it is going to get to 360 dg F when it is ready), mix the remaining 3/4 cups of flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and an extra pinch or two of black pepper and cayenne together in a bowl. Stir in the yogurt water mixture as well as the remaining egg until fully combined.
7. When your oil is ready (remember, 360 dg F), move your dogs and your batter over to the stove. Set up an oil-dripping station by placing some paper towels on cookie racks. Do a quick stretch and get ready to fry.
8. One by one, dip a dog into the batter–I used a spoon to help coat the dog evenly. And when fully covered in the cornmeal goodness, drop the entire dog, stick and all, into the hot oil. Let it cook for 4 to 5 minutes and use a spider skimmer or a long pair of tongs to remove the dog. Place it on the paper towels to cool and repeat for the remaining dogs. Serve warm.