Mud Hens

One of the many things I have learned as a photographer is that it is pretty impossible to take a pretty picture of anything that has to do with a chicken, unless it is an actual live chicken.

I had my first experience with this when I tried (and miserably failed ) to photograph some really scrumptious fried chicken that I made one day.  If you are interested in what a photographic food blogger resorts to when she needs to blog about something she actually CANNOT photograph in any decent way, click here.

In the case of these little babies, which are called Mud Hens, the photographic-chicken-rule continued…but because I couldn’t bear not to share them with the world, I did the next best thing and put these not so pretty mud hens on one of my grandmother’s very pretty plates.  

Now since I know you are going to ask, here is my FAQ about Mud Hens.

I have no idea why they are called Mud Hens.  

2. They are a Southern dessert made up of a sugar cookie dough that is sprinkled with chopped pecans, chocolate chips and mini-marshmallows, spread with a brown sugar meringue, and baked.

3. I live with a Southern man and while he had these growing up, he also has no idea why they are called Mud Hens.  He can, however, tell you anything you want to know about any player on all the Division One college football teams in the state of Georgia.

4. The Southern husband pronounces these the following way: “Mud Hins.”  I love this about him.

5. Even though I am NOT from the South,  I routinely catch myself saying “y’all.”  This come from years of living with the Southern husband, and has nothing to do with Mud Hens, but #4 reminded me.

6. You must, must, must make these, because even though they are not pretty, they taste GORGEOUS.

You now know everything I know about Mud Hens.

Mud Hens, adapted from Southern Plate: Classic Comfort Food That Makes Everyone Feel Like Family 

Mud Hens
  • ¼ cup shortening
  • ½ stick butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 whole egg
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 1½ cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chopped nuts (I used pecans)
  • 1 cup mini marshmallows
  • ½ cup chocolate chips
  • 1½ cup light brown sugar
  • 1 egg white
  1. Preheat oven to 350 and butter a 9x13 inch baking dish.Cream the shortening, butter and sugar in a large bowl. Beat in the whole egg and the two egg yolks.In a separate bowl, sift the flour, baking powder and salt together. Combine the creamed mixture ith the flour mixture, blending thoroughly. Spread the batter into the baking pan. (If you are having trouble getting it to reach the edges of the pan, rinse your fingers in cold water and gently push the batter where you want it to go.)Sprinkle the nuts, chips and marshmallows over the top of the batter.Beat the 2 leftover egg whites plus the one extra egg white until stiff, fold in the brown sugar and spread over the top of the batter. Bake for 30-40 minutes until browned on top. Cook completely, then cut into bars.


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  1. Joanne says

    I have a love/hate relationship with foods that look so unaesthetic it hurts. They all are just so good for the soul, you know? These sound amazing!

  2. vanillasugar says

    my neighbors have chickens. the really fancy pretty ones. the male rooster is lovely to look at. and as such i am now obsessed with them. if you follow me on FB, all i do is photograph them. they were in hibernation since mid dec and just came back outside yesterday–i was thrilled to pieces to see them. the male is hard to photograph, the females not so much. (like you wanted to know all this stuff lol)

  3. PoetessWug says

    I understand your Southern husband's language, being also from Georgia originally. But I never in my whole life heard of a Mud Hen!! How is this possible?! I mean I know what chitlings are, what tripe is, what hog head cheese is! Mud hens?!….Not a clue! ^_^ But the recipe looks like it's worth a go! So, Mud Hen education…here I come! :-]

  4. Boodle says

    It sounds scrumptious!

    And I agree; I never have the urge to order chicken in a restaurant, per se, because it's just…that uninteresting dish. Rather cook it at home out of necessity.


  5. Andrea says

    I just made these last week (from the Southern Plate cookbook). They were ugly as homemade sin, but OMG, they were delicious!
    I'd say the ones in your photo are prettier than mine. And the chicken is mighty handsome as well!

  6. Suzanne says

    I got the recipe for these back in 1972 from a friend on a wheat ranch in Condon, Oregon. She called them Condon Mudhens. I have no idea where the name came from but agree that they are very good.

  7. smalltownoven says

    These sound like heaven and I have a bag of minimarshmallows waiting to be commissioned into greatness. Can't wait!

  8. flaky says

    Mud Hens are also a minor league baseball team in Toledo OH….and a very popular team, I might add.

    These look like a delicious snack to take on a road trip to the game. We are only weeks away from the season opener!

  9. My Oversized Cranium says

    Any tips from anyone on how you cut them so neatly? Mine crumbled into a mess. Tasted great, but a mess.

  10. Elise says

    I'm so glad you've had the same experience with un-photogenic chicken! I just took a number of pictures for a post on a chicken taco recipe, and they looked AWful. Glad I'm not the only one 😛

    Anything with cookie dough, brown sugar, and chocolate must be divine. I'm making these ASAP.

  11. Kate Morgan Jackson says

    Okay, cutting tips: first, wait until they are Completely Cool. This is very hard, but essential. Second, it's easiest to cut them when they are out of the baking dish – usually this is easiest to accomplish by cutting the whole thing into quarters and then lifting the quarters out with a spatula. Then get your biggest, sharpest knife, and run it under water. Press down all in one motion – don't "saw' back and forth. If your knife doesn't cover the whole piece, start the cut in the middle rather than at the edge of the piece. Those are all my best cutting tricks – these are definitely a messy one…but worth it! :)

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