This tall layer cake, with a medley of flavors from nuts, fruit and spices, comes from the kitchens of Silver Dollar City theme park in Branson, Missouri. Add a sprinkling of pecans on top for even more crunch. Why is it called Hummingbird Cake? One story suggests the Ozark classic used to attract its namesake.
"You make a gooey brown sugar syrup in the bottom of the pan," explains Robert Stricklin, executive chef/educator at Keeter Center, College of the Ozarks in Point Lookout, Missouri. "When it comes out of the oven, you turn it upside down like a sticky bun."
Students working at the Keeter Center dining room present slices on a plate with both custard and caramel sauces. The fruit-pecan pie takes extra steps to prepare, but it's worth it.
The scent of succotash cooking in enormous cast-iron skillets lures visitors at Branson's Silver Dollar City. Our recipe is a smaller version, just right for a regular skillet. It's loaded with veggies, along with the chicken.
The blueberry-size green gooseberries in this recipe come from a spiny bush that grows in the Ozarks. At Silver Dollar City in Branson, the sweet-tart berries are mixed with sugar and tucked into a two-crust pie.
At the College of the Ozark's Keeter Center, cooks make this Ozark version of crab cakes substituting smoked trout. Customers pack the 250-seat dining room in the school's expansive Keeter Center log lodge for Ozark lunches and dinners prepared by culinary students.
At Silver Dollar City, you'll find a "mess" of this two-potato side dish frying in a 5-foot-wide iron skillet. The aroma of sizzling onions and potatoes in bacon drippings makes the recipe hard to resist, even when you prepare it in a home-size pan.
Traditional chicken-fried steak actually is beef. Diners at Devil's Pool Restaurant at Big Cedar Lodge near Branson, Missouri, love this crispy, fried entree, which comes with the restaurant's creamy mashed potatoes and gravy.
At Persimmon Hill Farm (20 miles southwest of Branson), they call jumbo muffins Thunder Muffins—they're made in extra-large muffin pans. The farm's fresh blueberries make the flavor as big as the muffins.
Using the beloved pecan pie as a guide, cooks for the restaurant at the top of War Eagle Mill near Rogers, Arkansas, fashioned this cobbler, adding oat flour for a different flavor in the crust. The buttery crust layers in the middle of the syrupy filling, for a variation on the usual crown of topping. A generous measure of pecans adds crunch.
Guests dine on this favorite stew at Silver Dollar City's Lucky Silver Mine Restaurant, while others learn how to make it at the park's Culinary & Craft School. The meat slow-cooks for fork-tender results.
Staff at Silver Dollar City churn dozens of ice cream flavors at Hannah's Ice Cream Factory. For a sweeter ice cream, use more sugar. Look for black walnut flavoring, which pairs with nuts to give this cool treat its flavor, in large supermarkets.