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Gluten-Free Tuesday: Corn Dogs

[Photographs: Elizabeth Barbone]

When it comes to summer fair food, it seems I'm old-fashioned. Those fried butter sticks, fried spaghetti and meatballs, and fried Coke? Keep them. Even if I could eat gluten, I'd pass. Now a corn dog or funnel cake? That's my type of deep-fried treat.

Making gluten-free corn dogs proved to be a little trickier than I expected. The problem? The cornmeal. Thanks to cross-contamination with gluten grains, not all cornmeal is safe for those on a gluten-free diet. No problem, just use a gluten-free cornmeal for corn dogs, right? Well, sort of.

The most common gluten-free cornmeal is made by Bob's Red Mill. It's good stuff and I use it often, but it's fairy coarse. Herein lies the problem for corn dogs.

The corn dogs found at most county fairs have a soft, almost pancake-like coating. When I've made corn dogs with coarse gluten-free cornmeal, I found the coating distractingly crunchy with little bits of coarse cornmeal sprinkled throughout the coating. I wanted a traditional corn dog and these, while good, weren't traditional. Back into the kitchen I went. I played with the ratio of cornmeal to flour. I tried hydrating the cornmeal before using it. (That kind of worked but required way more effort and planning than a corn dog deserves.) Then it hit me. Cornflour*!

I wondered if cornflour's soft texture would solve my "too crunchy" problem while still providing a nice corn flavor to the finished dogs. It did! The coating, when made with cornflour, is light and soft to the bite. Plus, it's easy to make (no hydrating necessary) and tasted just like the corn dogs I bought at the fair when I could eat gluten.

*In the United States, cornflour refers to finely ground cornmeal, not corn starch.

Five Keys for Making Gluten-Free Corn Dogs

  1. Dry the dogs. Before coating the hot dogs, dry them. It doesn't matter if you use natural casing dogs or gluten-free veggie dogs, they need to be dry. Remove them from the refrigerator, allow them to come to room temperature and then roll them in a towel to dry. Remember to dry the ends.
  2. Coat them in flour. While researching how to make corn dogs at home, I noticed one compliant coming up again and again: the batter slides off the dog. To keep the batter on the hot dogs, roll them in white rice flour before coating with the cornmeal batter. Again, remember to coat the ends.
  3. Use a tall glass. Evenly coating the corn dogs with batter can be the toughest part of making corn dogs. To make it easy, fill a tall drinking glass with batter and dip the dogs, one at a time, in the cup.
  4. Work quickly. While the white rice flour helps the batter to adhere to the hot dog, some batter still drips off the dog after coating. Set your batter-filled drinking class next to your deep fryer or heavy-bottomed pot. Dip the dog in batter, taking care to cover the end of the dog that meets the stick. Lift the dog out of the batter, allow it to "drip" for a second, swirling or shaking it lightly and place it right into the deep fryer. Remember, don't drop the corn dog into the fryer. Lay it in the fryer gently, tip first. This helps to prevent splattering.
  5. Wrap the stick after frying. When I fried my first corn dog, I got excited! It was so pretty and corn dog-y. After allowing it to drain for a second or two on a paper towel-lined plate, I picked it up. And...I dropped it down. That stick was HOT. Before serving, wrap the stick in a paper-towel.

Ingredient Note: Not all hot dogs are gluten-free, be sure to read labels, as always, before selecting your hot dogs.

About the author: Elizabeth Barbone of joins us every Tuesday with a new gluten-free recipe. Elizabeth is an alumna of the Culinary Institute of America and Mount Mary College. With her solid professional baking background, Elizabeth is known for creating gluten-free recipes that taste just like their wheat counterparts. She is the author of Easy Gluten-Free Baking.

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