Just in time for Easter, Eddy Browning shares an authentic southern recipe that you may never heard of.
The first choice of ham for this dish is a dry-cured old or country ham, but it is even respectable made with a brine-cured baked ham - just so long as it hasn't been impregnated with artificial "smoke flavoring."
The bone from a country ham or 3 pounds ham hock or knuckle
3 quarts cold water
1 large white onion, peeled and halved
1 large carrot, peeled and cut in large chunks
1 Bouquet Garni (recipe below)
6 whole peppercorns
1 recipe Raised Dumplings (recipe below)
1 cup leftover boiled (or raw) country ham, cut into julienne
14 cup chopped parsley, plus 2 tablespoons more for garnish
1. Put the bone into a large stockpot and pour the water over them. Turn on the heat as low as you can get it and bring the water slowly to the boiling point, carefully skimming off the scum as it pops to the surface. It will take about 45 minutes.
2. Add the onion, carrot, the bouquet garni, and the peppercorns, Simmer slowly for at least 1 hour, 2 is better. Strain, discarding the solids, return the broth to the pot, bring it back to a boil, and reduce it to 1 1/2 quarts (about half).
3. Make the dumplings according to the recipe, folding and rolling them into flat pastry as directed in step 4. Drop the dumplings a few at a time into the simmering broth and let them simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the ham and parsley and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes more. Ladle the ham and dumplings into a serving platter or individual soup plates, sprinkle them with more parsley, and serve at once. Serves 6.
The Bouquet Garni should be used as soon as it is made, so don't put it together until you need it.
1 bay leaf preferably fresh
2 sprigs thyme
1 sprig parsley
1 leafy celery rib with top
Use just 1 of the following: 1 sprig marjoram, summer savory, chervil, rosemary,sage, or tarragon and omit the thyme.
Gather everything into a bundle. If the bay leaf is dried, wrap it carefully so that it doesn't crumble. Tie it securely with kitchen twine, wrapping it (crisscross like the laces of a ballet slipper) around the herbs.
This is really a light biscuit dough, and is handled in much the same way. Soda and baking powder make the dumplings swell as they cook into fluffy, delicate pillows. As is true for biscuits, they should be made only from soft winter wheat flour.
10 ounces (about 2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
12 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons Single-Acting Baking Powder or 1 teaspoon commercial double-acting powder
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter or lard
1 cup whole milk buttermilk or plain, all-natural whole milk yogurt thinned to buttermilk consistency with water or milk.
1. Sift together the flour, soda, basking powder, and salt into a mixing bowl. Cut in the butter or lard with a pastry blender (or two knives) until the flour resembles coarse corn meal.
2. Make a well in the center of the flour and pour in the buttermilk or yogurt. Using a wooden spoon and as few strokes as possible, quickly stir the ingredients together.
3. Shaping the dumplings: There are two types of dumpling that can be made with this dough. Their differing shape affects both their texture and the way that they absorb the broth. Both are still used in Southern cooking, and each has its distinct charms. To make flat, noodle-like dumplings, skip to step 4. To make drop dumplings, take the dough out onto a floured surface, flour it lightly, and fold it in half. Pat it flat and repeat this 4 or 5 times. Pinch off 1-inch round pieces of dough and cook quickly in any of the following recipes.
4. To make flat dumplings (sometimes called "slipperies), lightly flour a smooth wood or plastic laminate work surface and turn the dough out onto it. Flour your hands and gently push the dough away from you to flatten it. Fold it in half, gently press flat with the heel of your hand, and give it a quarter turn. Repeat this until the dough is just smooth, about 12 to 15 folds. (This is Bill Neal's technique: it isn't kneading, so use a very light hand) Dust the work surface and the dough with more flour and roll it out to a thickness of 1/8 inch. Quickly cut into 1-inch strips, and them cut each into 2- inch lengths.
The second recipe is delightful - and probably one of the most popular recipes to come out of the eighteenth Century.
Spring Onions in Cream
Green or spring onions are any young onion that still has tender green sprouts. Scallions are virtually the only type of green onion available today, but when I was growing up, the spring onions we had were actually young shallots, as they once were for many Inner Bankers. They have a distinctive flavor that no scallion could ever hope for. This is probably why green scallions are sometimes called shallots in the Inter Banks, and why there's so much confusion when they are called for in old recipes.
This is an especially nice treatment for any green onions; it is fine thing to do with leeks and transforms mild little scallions. But if you should be so lucky as to have your own garden where you can pull shallots that are still green, it will put a little bit of heaven on your dinner table.
1-1/2 pounds small green onions or scallions
1 cup heavy cream (minimum 36% mild fat)
Whole black pepper in a peppermill
Whole nutmeg in a grater
1 tablespoons chopped parsley
1. Trim off the roots and any browned or withered leaves from the onions. Cut off just enough of the green tops to make them all of a uniform length and drop them into a basin of cold water.
2. Put a cup of water into a wide, shallow pan that will hold the onions in no more than two layers, and bring it to a boil over medium heat. Drain the onions from their cold bath and drop them into the pan. Cover loosely and let it come back to a boil, then uncover, and add a healthy pinch of salt. Reduce the heat to medium, and let them cook, uncovered, until tender. This should take no more than 10 minutes and may take as little as 5, so keep an eye on them. If they overcook, they will lose their color and much of their delicate flavor.
3. Remove the onions from the pan with a slotted spoon or spatula to a warm platter. Raise the heat to high and reduce the cooking liquid to about 2 tablespoons, about 3 to 4 minutes.
4. Pour in the cream and let it come back to a boil. Return the onions to the pan. Taste and add another pinch of salt, as needed, a liberal grinding of pepper, and a few gratings of nutmeg. Simmer until the cream is thick and lightly coating the onions, about 4 minutes more. Transfer them back to the platter, garnish with parsley, and serve at once, Serves 4
Hot Cross Buns
2 packages active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water ( 105 to 115)
1/2 cup lukewarm mild (scalded then cooled)
1/4 cup unseasoned lukewarm mashed potatoes
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter softened
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup citron
4 1/2 cups Gold Medal Flour
Egg Yolk Glaze (below)
Quick White Icing (below)
Dissolve yeast in warm water. Stir in milk, potatoes, sugar, salt, butter, eggs, cinnamon, nutmeg, raisins, citron and 2 1/2 cups of the flour. Beat until smooth. Mix in remaining flour to form soft dough.
Turn dough onto lightly floured board, knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Place in greased bowl, turn greased side up. Cover; let rise in warm place until double, about 1 1/2 hours.
Pinch down dough, divide in half. Cut each half into sixteen pieces. Shape each half into 16 pieces. Shape into smooth balls and place about 2 inches apart on greased baking sheet. With scissors, snip a cross on top of each bun. Cover, let rise until double, about 40 minutes.
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Brush tops of buns with Egg Yolk Glaze. Bake about 20 minutes or until golden brown. When cool, frost crosses on tops of buns with Quick White Icing.
Egg Yolk Glaze: Mix 1 egg yolk and 2 tablespoons cold water.
Quick White Icing: Mix 1 cup confectioners sugar, 1 tablespoon water or milk and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla until smooth and of spreading consistency.