Sussex County Beans

Recipe: Sussex County Beans

By isak, December 29, 2009

A friend and I have been swapping our ideas on comfort food and I remembered one last night I need to add to the list: gravy. I love gravy! And for dinner last night, I had a gravy sandwich — a couple pieces of honey wheat berry bread smothered in gravy. Hmmmmm.

But this post has nothing to do with gravy or with pets. It has to do with another comfort food: Sussex County Beans.

When I was about 10 years old, I lived with my folks and three brothers in Frankford, Delaware located in Sussex County. We had a babysitter named Mrs. Bunting for my little brother, Lad. Lad couldn’t pronounce “Bunting.” It came out as “Bumpy” and so Mrs. Bunting became Bumpy to us all. Lad and I, the youngest of the four kids, were sometimes left in Bumpy’s care on afternoons when my mom had to be other places with our two older brothers. Bumpy was always cooking something or another and I learned a lot about cooking, even at 10, from her. The big two were Slippery Dumplings (no cake dumplings in southern Delaware) and Sussex County Beans. Here’s another¬†dumpling recipe submitted by a reader.

It’s a cold day today here in Texas; it was sleeting earlier — a good day to pull out the crock pot and make Sussex County Beans. Essentially the recipe is lima beans, corn, tomatoes and bacon (or salt pork) with a touch of sugar cooked slowly together. I don’t eat bacon very often but I thought I could make a pot of Sussex County Beans today… and then some Black-Eyed Peas by New Year’s and use up a small package of bacon.

Seems most people I meet don’t like lima beans, so why are they so expensive in the frozen food section of the grocery??? $5 for two pounds. I bought the dried ones: $1.49 for one pound. The dried ones don’t retain their wonderful green color, so the end result will not be as pretty with the dried ones, but great stuff anyway.

Here’s how I am cooking them today:


1-lb dried lima beans
1/2-lb frozen yellow corn (or about 6 ears of fresh corn cut off the cob)
3-4 roma tomatoes (any tomato will work; romas have less seeds)
4 slices of bacon cut into smaller pieces (or salt pork)
2 Tablespoons sugar
Salt and pepper to taste

Add all the ingredients to your crock pot, fill with plenty of water (because the beans are dry and will absorb lots of water), cook on high until the liquid comes to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and let things cook for a few/couple hours.

Bumpy served them as a side dish, but I use them as my entree with some bread or rolls. I especially like a crusty bread with a soft inside.

It’s hard for me to say how many this will serve because I will eat them all in a couple days, but maybe 6-8 servings.

If you google Sussex County Beans, you will not find this recipe — or I didn’t, but I found this:
Grown primarily for processing, lima beans are planted on more acres in Delaware than any other vegetable crop. Baby limas and Fordhook varieties are used in processing; the small amounts of pole lima beans grown in the state are strictly for the fresh market.



  1. Lynn says:

    Chicken and Dumplings

    (Sussex County Slippery Dumplings)


    – 1 young broiler chicken (~6 lbs)
    – 1 medium onion, coarsley chopped
    – 4 celery ribs, coursely chopped
    – 1 tsp. poultry seasoning
    – 2 tsp. salt, or to taste
    – 1 tsp. pepper, or to taste
    – 2 c. flour
    – 2 T. butter-flavored Crisco
    – 1 tsp. salt
    – broth from chicken

    In a large pot, place chicken, giblets, onion, celery, poultry seasoning, salt, and pepper. Add enough water just to cover the chicken. Bring to simmer and let chicken cook until tender, about 1.5 hrs.

    When chicken is tender, remove it from the cooking liquid. Use a slotted spoon to remove the giblets and most of the celery and onion (but not all). Carefully remove the chicken meat from the bones, and discard the skin and bones. Separate into dark and white meat on a platter, cover with foil and set aside.

    Make and roll out the dumplings. Mix together the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Cut in the shortening. Add warm broth, a little at a time, until a soft (but not sticky) dough is formed. Divide into three balls in mixing bowl. Work with one ball at a time. Roll out the dough on a floured surface to a 1/16 inch thickness. Sprinkle with more salt/pepper. Use a knife to cut into ~2.5 inch squares. It’s quite okay if they are a little larger or smaller than 2.5 inches; and it’s okay if they are irregular shaped – no one will notice. Let dumplings dry out a bit (about an hour, or so) before cooking in broth. They can dry out either on the counter OR on the edge of the mixing bowl.

    Heat broth on high heat to boiling. Drop one at a time into boiling broth. Be very careful not to let them stick together! Reduce heat to medium and cook dumplings uncovered until tender, about 15 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to put in a serving bowl. Serve immediately with the chicken.

    TIPS for the slickest dumplings: Roll them out THIN. Cook in small batches! Also, if the broth becomes thick from the flour, add water in between batches.

  2. JK says:

    I am also from Sussex ( Laurel) my grandmother would use salt pork instead of bacon and everything is cooked together to create the pork/tomato flavored broth. Bacon would also be good if the salt pork was not available.

  3. Dawn K says:

    slipper dumplings are easy! (I’m also a sussex county , de native) just put a couple cups of flour in a bowl, add a touch of bacon grease (optional unless you’re in my family lol) and enough cool chicken stock to make a soft dough. (how much depends on the weather) . flour your counter top and rolling pin, cut your dough into 2 parts, knead for just a bit (not too much or your noodles will be tough!) roll out the dough until it’s nearly paper thin – if you can read through it so much the better, nothing worse than thick dumplins! cut into strips then across the strips again to get rectangles about the length of your thumb. Hang to dry a bit for use later or preferably Drop right away into boiling (homemade of course) chicken stock. Stir constantly as you drop more in. After about 10 mins of this simmer slow with the lid on for another 20 (if you can wait that long!) add bits of pulled chicken to your pot and stir, serve with hot buttered biscuits, fried chicken , beans (see above recipe) and table pickles.

  4. Eliz Wolpert says:

    Please may I have the recipe for slippery dumplings. they were made by my garndmother long ago in Sussex DE, Thanks!

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