Lately I have not been inspired to cook. The recent Easter holiday did not offer any hope for my kitchen to be occupied. In the March edition of Bon Appetit magazine, a story featured writer Andrew Knowlton who worked 3 - 8-hour shifts as a cook at a Waffle House in Atlanta. This inspired my dining adventure for the day. I had no idea my Scattered and Covered Hashbrowns would be as good as they were when topped with Country Gravy!
Meal Planning for the week following Easter, I purchased a spiral sliced ham from my local Publix for the purpose of sandwich making. I knew the leftover ham bone would be perfect for a soup or pot of beans, but I was looking for something different to make.
One of the most iconic dishes of the South are Chicken and Dumplings. Mama used to make her dumplings by hand until she found a product called Mary Hill Dumplings at her local grocery store. From that point on, she never rolled another dumpling by hand again. Luckily, I can find these at my local Publix or WalMart stores and therefore I never plan to make dumplings from scratch.
I seem to recall Mama making Ham and Dumplings at one point in time. The recipe I used was found on Mary Foreman's site "Deep South Dish". To clarify, for testing purposes, I used frozen, flat dumplings and did not test the recipe for dumplings that is listed here. Her recipe uses what is called a "dropped" dumpling, whereby the mixture is dropped by spoonfuls in the boiling pot of stock, as opposed to dropping the flat dumpling into the pot.
Ham Bone Dumplings
recipe courtesy of Mary Foreman www.deepsouthdish.com
Makes about 4 to 6 servings
For the Ham Stock:
1 large meaty hambone
3 quarts of water
2 whole celery stalks (ribs) with leaves, rinsed and cut into large chunks
2 large carrots, unpeeled, rinsed and cut into large chunks
1 large onion, unpeeled and quartered
4 sprigs of fresh parsley
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon of whole peppercorns
For the Dumplings:
3 tablespoons of vegetable shortening
1-1/2 cups of self-rising flour
1/2 cup buttermilk or milk
1/4 cup of reserved ham stock
Salt, only if needed, to taste
Place ham bone in a large stockpot, along with the remaining stock ingredients. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 2 hours or until mixture is reduced to about 1-1/2 quarts. Strain, reserving the bone and stock; discard vegetables. Once cooled, pick off any meat from the bone, reserving the meat and discarding the bone. Refrigerating the stock overnight is best when possible.
When ready to prepare dumplings, set aside 1/4 cup of the stock. Mix together the dumpling ingredients until they form a soft dough. Bring ham stock to a rolling boil. Using a small spoon, scoop out and drop into boiling broth and cover immediately so that the dumplings begin to steam; simmer on low about 10 minutes before checking. Don't overcook or dumplings will be dense and hard. Taste broth and adjust seasonings if needed, adding freshly cracked black pepper. Carefully scoop broth and a few dumplings into individual serving bowls.
Cook's Notes: May substitute 2 or 3 meaty ham hocks. If the bone or hocks you use are not very meaty, add in about 1 to 1-1/2 cups of chopped, smoked ham.