This is my mother-in-law's recipe and was taught to me by my
husband shortly after we were wed. My mother-in-law was forever searching for
ways to stretch a food dollar to feed a family of nine hungry sons (and four
daughters). She could not afford canned salmon, which can also be used
interchangeably with mackerel in this recipe. My mother-in-law always described
herself as a "plain, ordinary country woman, nothing fancy about me." She was,
in fact, extraordinary, wonderful, mischievous, fun, and a soft shoulder to cry
on in times of trouble. She was a treasury of old-tyme Tennessee country recipes and a very fine
cook. Her daughters, sons, and daughter-in-laws learned a lot from her.
Ethel's Jack Mackerel Cakes
1 15-ounce can jack mackerel (pink or red canned salmon may be
1/2 tsp. salt
stoneground cornmeal, about 3/4 to 1 cup
oil for frying
Heat about 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch cooking oil in heavy cast-iron skillet. Turn
jack mackerel and the broth in which it is packed into mixing bowl Split open
pieces to remove the heavy spinal column (if preferred, these bones may be left
in, but I never did like the uncomfortable crunch they make when they collide
with the diner's teeth). Crumble mackerel into its canning broth. Add salt and
egg and mix thoroughly. Add enough cornmeal to make a stiff dough, stirring
until all is well-mixed. If mixture is too soupy to hold together, add a little
more cornmeal to thicken. Use hands to pat out dough into 7 or 8
individual-sized cakes and turn carefully into hot oil. Fry, turning once,
until crisp and golden brown on both sides. Remove to paper-towel-lined serving
dish. These cakes go well with pinto beans and creamed potatoes. Some people
like them with a side dip of ketchup or barbecue sauce.
Here's a comment emailed us about this recipe: "Just wanted to share with you that I tried the recipe the other day - and
first time at it, was such a HIT! I put the pictures of the cakes on my
blog and I think a good number of people are actually reading it! Thank you
so much for creating a place for these recipes that will last forever :-)!
My best regards, Mei"
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