3 of a Kind: Corn Dogs Reimagined

3 of a Kind checks out three places across the country to try something cool, new and delicious.

The corn dog, which has been around since the 1920s, has long been thought of as an inexpensive festival food … until now. Today’s chefs are giving this carnival snack a gourmet spin at restaurants around the country. They’re taking the everyday and turning it into something extraordinary by using luxurious ingredients including lobster, shrimp and even huitlacoche. Food on a stick never had it so good.

Rizzo’s Diner, Memphis

A Pronto Pup is a particular brand of corn dog that for the past 60 years has been ubiquitous at carnivals, festivals and sporting events in and around Memphis. Chef Michael Patrick wanted to make his own version and experimented using shrimp, chicken and scallops before settling on lobster. Patrick takes succulent morsels of lobster, skewers them and dips them in his own version of the Pronto Pup batter — which is somewhere between a tempura batter and a corn dog batter. The fried creations come served with Zatarain’s Creole mustard aioli. Such is the demand for the lobster Pronto Pup that it has become a signature dish at Patrick’s restaurant.

Hog & Rocks, San Francisco

When Chef Pierre Tumlin decided to create a happy-hour snack to go with the cocktails at Hog & Rocks, his thought was to take local ingredients and present them in an approachable and fun way. So he turned to the 4505 Meats butcher shop for hot dogs, which he then covered in a golden batter that’s far from standard. Tumlin incorporated the “truffle of corn,” aka huitlacoche, in the corn dog batter to add umami flavor. A corn fungus or smut that grows on corncobs, huitlacoche is considered a delicacy, thus making it an ideal add-in to elevate the classic carnival staple. The corn dogs are served with beer mustard, relish and chorizo ketchup.

Oakleys Bistro, Indianapolis

The famed shrimp corn dog of Oakleys Bistro was originally conceived for a zoo charity event. Chef and proprietor Steven Oakley felt a certain affinity for the corn dog, due to his Indiana location, but he wanted to take it up a notch. The resulting creation — a shrimp corn dog served with truffle honey mustard — proved to be irresistible. The one-night-only dish got such rave reviews that it was added to Oakleys’ regular repertoire. So popular is the shrimp dog that the bistro sells the dry-ingredient mix along with the skewers for people to make it at home.

Photos courtesy of Maya Placido, Ken’s Food Find and Oakleys Bistro

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