Cookbook cover for As American as a Shoofly Pie


William Woys Weaver

University of Pennsylvania Press
April 2013
ISBN-13: 978-0812244793

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William Woys Weaver

William Woys Weaver is an independent food historian and author of numerous books, including Culinary Ephemera: An Illustrated History and Sauerkraut Yankees: Pennsylvania Dutch Food & Foodways. He also directs the Keystone Center for the Study of Regional Foods and Food Tourism and maintains the Roughwood Seed Collection for heirloom food plants.

When visitors travel to Pennsylvania Dutch Country, they are encouraged to consume the local culture by way of “regional specialties” such as cream-filled whoopie pies and deep-fried fritters of every variety. Yet many of the dishes and confections visitors have come to expect from the region did not emerge from Pennsylvania Dutch culture, but from expectations fabricated by local-color novels or the tourist industry. At the same time, other less celebrated (and rather more delicious) dishes, such as sauerkraut and stuffed pork stomach, have been enjoyed in Pennsylvania Dutch homes across various localities and economic strata for decades.

Celebrated food historian and cookbook writer, William Woys Weaver, delves deeply into the history of Pennsylvania Dutch cuisine to sort fact from fiction in the foodlore of this culture. Through interviews with contemporary Pennsylvania Dutch cooks and extensive research into cookbooks and archives, AS AMERICAN AS SHOOFLY PIE offers a comprehensive and counterintuitive cultural history of Pennsylvania Dutch cuisine, its roots and regional characteristics, its communities and class divisions, and, above all, its evolution into a uniquely American style of cookery. Weaver traces the origins of Pennsylvania Dutch cuisine as far back as the first German settlements in America and follows them forward as New Dutch Cuisine continues to evolve and respond to contemporary food concerns. His detailed and affectionate chapters present a rich and diverse portrait of a living culinary practice–widely varied among different religious sects and localized communities, rich and poor, rural and urban–that complicates common notions of authenticity.

Because there’s no better way to understand food culture than to practice it, AS AMERICAN AS SHOOFLY PIE’s cultural history is accompanied by dozens of recipes, drawn from exacting research, kitchen-tested, and adapted to modern cooking conventions. From soup to Schnitz, these dishes lay the table with a multitude of regional tastes and stories.

Hockt eich hie mit uns, un esst eich satt—Sit down with us and eat yourselves full!

Chicken Gravy and Ham Waffles (Hinkel un Schunkefleesch Waffle)

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

This recipe follows fairly closely a similar recipe used at the Water Gate Inn in Washington, D.C. The restaurant served a house specialty called “Mennonite Chicken,” which was chicken stewed in sour cream; this often doubled as gravy for waffles. Marjorie Hendricks (the restaurant owner) was not reluctant to introduce wine into her recipes since her Normandy Farm restaurant in Rockville, Maryland, used the grape abundantly in her French-style dishes. She understood that the best of the old-time Dutch cooking, à la Kuechler’s Roost, also made use of local wines, and a good Pennsylvania wine is one of the defining features of this dish. The wine should be a little on the fruity side, such as a Gewürztraminer or a Riesling.

Chicken Gravy
1½ pounds (750g) frying chicken, preferably 2 boneless breasts
1 tablespoon (15g) unsalted butter
2 ounces (60g) country slab bacon, diced very small
1 cup (125g) diced cooked ham
1 cup (125g) chopped onion or leek
1 cup (75g) fresh morels or other wild mushrooms, sliced or quartered depending on size
2 tablespoons (15g) flour
1 cup (250ml) fruity white Pennsylvania wine
1 cup (250ml) sour cream
1 cup (250ml) hot milk or heavy cream
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon each of minced parsley and minced fresh thyme as garnish

Remove the skin and fat from the chicken and set aside (see note). Divide the breasts into 3 or 4 pieces.
Heat the butter and bacon in a large, heavy sauté pan. Once the bacon is rendered (about 3 minutes), add the chicken and brown evenly over medium-high heat. Cover and reduce to low heat and simmer 25 to 30 minutes or until the meat is thoroughly cooked.
Remove the bacon and chicken. Add the bacon to the diced ham and chop the chicken into small, bean-size pieces. Combine with the ham and bacon and set aside.
Add to the pan the onion or leek as well as the mushrooms, dusting them with the flour. Cover and sweat for 2 minutes, then add the wine. Boil briskly to deglaze the pan, then reduce the heat.
Add the chopped chicken mixture, then add the sour cream and milk. Stir to thicken. Adjust seasonings and add herbs.
Serve immediately over hot waffles (recipe below). Add more milk or hot chicken stock if you want the gravy to be extra runny.

The chicken fat and skin should not be wasted. Cook them in a small saucepan until fully rendered of the fat. Pour the fat through a fine strainer or sieve into a jar and set aside to cool. Once cool, cover with a tight lid and use like butter in cookery, especially where savory (meat) dishes are called for. The flavor is unique and tastes better than butter.

Ham Waffles

Yield: Approximately 14 to 16 small waffles

Make the waffles ahead of the chicken and keep them warm in the oven heated to 200°F (90°C). Serve with side dishes of red cabbage and stewed celery.

4 large eggs, separated
1½ cups (375ml) buttermilk
¼ cup (65ml) vegetable oil or olive oil
1 cup (100g) finely ground cooked ham
1¾ cups (220g) pastry flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt

Beat the egg yolks until lemon color and frothy, then combine this with the buttermilk and vegetable oil. Fold in the ground ham.
In a separate work bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, soda, and salt twice, then sift this into the batter.
Beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks, then fold them gently into the batter. Let the batter rest 5 minutes.
While it is resting, heat the waffle iron. Follow the instructions accompanying your waffle iron concerning how much batter will be required for each waffle.
Once the waffle iron is ready, add the batter in half-cup increments, spreading it evenly with a spatula. Close the lid and cook until crisp and golden brown (5 to 6 minutes).
Serve piping hot with the chicken gravy above.

These Recipes may be reproduced with the following credit:

Recipes from As American as Shoofly Pie by William Woys Weaver. (University of Pennsylvania Press; April 2013; $34.95/Hardcover: ISBN-13: 978-0812244793). 

Contact: Saunders Robinson