Baked Ham, Beans and Dumplings

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After 3 major snowfalls in one week, we were more than ready for something hearty, warm and comforting for supper.  I used ingredients and techniques from a couple of my favorite recipes to make this dish which my two daughters and I loved.

BAKED HAM, BEANS AND DUMPLINGS

2-½ cups (home-cooked or two 10 oz cans) Great Northern beans, drained lightly
½ cup cooked ham, cubed
½ cup sour cream
½ cup mayonnaise
½ cup milk
1 packet (small envelope) Goya ham seasoning (optional but adds really nice flavor)
Dash of pepper
10 oz can cream of mushroom soup, undiluted

Dumplings:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1-½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
3 Tblsp. Shortening (Crisco)
½ cup milk
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
Greased 9 inch baking dish

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Place drained beans and ham in the bottom of a greased 9-inch baking dish.

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In a small bowl or food processor, whisk together the sour cream, mayonnaise, milk, ham seasoning and pepper.

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Whisk in undiluted cream of mushroom soup.

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Pour soup mixture over beans and ham in baking dish.

Prepare dumplings:
In a medium bowl, mix together flour, baking powder and salt.  Cut in shortening and stir in milk.  Drop mixture by measuring tablespoon in small dollops on top of mixture in baking dish.

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Bake in preheated 400 degree F oven for approximately 20-25 minutes until dumplings are done and very light brown on top.

4-6 servings

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Refrigerated leftovers are good warmed uncovered in a 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes.  The dumplings will be crispy on top but still delicious.

Mom’s Chicken and Dumplings

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One of my favorite dishes that my mother made was chicken and dumplings.  She was not into spicy flavors, though, and never used anything but salt and pepper.  A few years ago, my youngest daughter made some delicious chicken and dumplings that included Italian seasoning and I took that idea and incorporated it into my version.  I also used two chicken breast halves rather than stewing a whole chicken.  This is a great, filling, easy and economical meal.

MOM’S CHICKEN AND DUMPLINGS

  • Two chicken breast halves with ribs and skin
  • 6 cups water
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ tsp. pepper
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. Italian seasoning*

Dumplings:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1-½ tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 3 Tblsp. Shortening (Crisco)
  • ½ cup milk

*Italian seasoning mix:

  • 1 Tblsp. Dried basil
  • 1 Tblsp. Dried sage
  • 1 Tblsp. Dried thyme
  • 1 Tblsp. Dried rosemary
  • 1 Tblsp. Dried oregano

To make seasoning mix:

Mix together and keep in a closed container.  This will make over ¼ cup of seasoning.  Use only ½ tsp. for this recipe.  It’s a good seasoning for many dishes, especially Italian food.

To cook chicken:

In a large pot, place two chicken breast halves with ribs and skin.  Cover with 6 cups of water and cook over medium heat for approximately 1-½ hours until chicken is tender.  Remove chicken breasts from pot and pour broth into a large container to chill for an hour or two.  Remove skin and bones from chicken and refrigerate breasts until ready to cook dumplings.

To cook broth:

About 30 minutes before you’re ready to serve, remove any fat from the top of the chicken broth and pour four cups into the large pot.  Heat to boiling.

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In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, milk, pepper, salt and Italian seasoning.  Whisk this mixture into the hot broth and allow to thicken over medium heat, stirring occasionally.

To make dumplings

In a small bowl, mix together 1 cup of flour, baking powder, ½ tsp. salt, and mix in Crisco shortening with your fingertips to distribute evenly.  Stir in the milk to make a soft dough.

Bring broth to a boil and add the dumpling mixture by tablespoon.

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Cover the pot, leaving a slight edge open so it won’t boil over and cook for 20 minutes without lifting the lid.

To serve, place some warmed pieces of the stewed chicken breast in the bottom of a bowl, add the broth and dumplings – and enjoy old-time, homey comfort on a winter day.

4 servings 

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Beans and Dumplings – A Depression-Era Meal

One of my earliest memories is of sitting at a table with my mother, father and little sister.  We are in a one-room, second-floor flat on Elm Street in downtown Cincinnati in the mid-1930s.  All day, Mother has watched over a simmering pot of beans with a pig hock added for flavor.  My father has come in from his timekeeper job on the WPA and we are having about the cheapest supper possible in the midst of the Great Depression.  I have a plateful of beans and a tiny bit of the small amount of meat that is on a pig hock (my father gets the biggest portion of meat and my mother claims to love chewing around on the bone).  The beans are steaming and the teaspoon or so of meat is flavorful – I love it!  It was said in my family that you weren’t an Applegate if you didn’t love beans, so I guess I qualified as a full-fledged member of my father’s side of the family.

As time went on and my father moved to better jobs with the City of Cincinnati and then Dayton Acme (a World War II defense plant), there was more money in my mother’s food budget and she stopped using the mostly-fat pig hocks and either threw in a pork chop or two to cook with the beans or had crisp bacon or fried ham on the side.  This was the only time my father ate pork … along with his beans topped with chopped onion and a lot of black pepper.

By the time my future husband started coming to the house for meals, Mother had added a big cast iron skillet full of fried potatoes to the menu.  It was his favorite supper.  After we were married, I continued to have this meal one night a week.  Every time I hear the John Denver song, “Back Home Again” and the line about “supper on the stove” and the wife who felt the baby move, I think about my young husband coming home to an expectant wife in our little apartment with the windows all steamed up and a big white and red graniteware pot of beans simmering on the range.

My four children didn’t inherit their parents’ love of a bean supper and I got out of the habit of making it.  But now that I’m alone, I crave the beans of my childhood, especially in the fall and winter.  I make a healthier, easier version with a slow cooker.

GREAT NORTHERN CROCKPOT BEANS

  • 1/2 lb. Great Northern dry beans
  • 6 cups cold water*
  • 1-1/2 tsp. ham flavored soup base (L. B. Jamison’s)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Place the dry beans cold water in the slow cooker.  *I use this amount of water to insure that I’ll have enough broth to make dumplings.  Cook on low overnight – approximately 8 hours.  Add the ham flavoring, then taste before adding salt and pepper.

I was the only one in the family who liked dumplings with my beans and I used to make a one-person serving.  This works very well for me now when I want to make a meal just for myself.

DUMPLINGS FOR ONE

  • 1/4 cup of My Biscuit Mix**
  • 1-1/2 Tblsp. (approx.) of cold water

In a small bowl, stir the biscuit mix and water together to make a thick, moist dough.

Heat about 1 cup of bean broth and 1 cup of beans in a small pot to boiling.  Drop the dough into the boiling mixture by the tablespoonful, making three dumplings.

Lower the heat to simmering, cover the pot and continue simmering for 10 minutes without lifting the lid.  Note:  The white and red graniteware lid is from my original 1952 set.

Serve immediately with chopped onion and a grating of black pepper.  A small serving of meat is good, but not necessary (to me, at least).  Today, I happened to be browning hot sausage to freeze for my Thanksgiving stuffing and kept back enough to make myself a small grilled patty.  It tasted wonderful.  This is truly my soul food.

**MY BISCUIT MIX

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tblsp. baking powder
  • 1/3 cup vegetable shortening (Crisco)

Mix together the flour, salt and baking powder.  Cut in the vegetable shortening.  Store in a covered container in the refrigerator until ready to use.

This is good for making individual servings of biscuits, pancakes … and dumplings. 


Recipe for Walt’s Polish Stuffing