Thursday, February 9, 2012

Buttermilk Biscuits

Cara McAvoy, sous chef at San Francisco's Chiaroscuro traveled to New Orleans recently, and she learned a little something about buttermilk biscuits:
I've never been much of a fan of Southern cooking. Growing up, we'd drive through the Carolinas and sample boiled peanuts or eat alligator meat on a dare - these are not experiences I am dying to repeat.
Then I went to New Orleans.
I got to hang out with my sister and get a feel for the culture and eat a ton of incredible food. What can I say? I'm in love. And hungry for things like buttermilk biscuits.
This recipe is simple, satisfying, and it'll knock your socks off. Even if you're a New Yorker like me.

Buttermilk Biscuits

2 cups flour
4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp butter + additional melted butter
4 Tbsp lard shortening (if you happen to be like me and you save bacon fat....this is why. Substitute some or all of the lard with bacon fat and prepare to be amazed!)
1 cup chilled buttermilk
cinnamon & brown sugar (optional, for topping)

1. Preheat oven to 450F degrees.
2. Sift together all dry ingredients.
3. With your hands, rub fats into flour until the clumps are pea sized or smaller (make sure to do this as fast as possible because you do not want your fats to start melting!).
4. Pour buttermilk over the center of the flour and mix till dough just comes together. DO NOT OVER MIX!
5. Turn out into a flat surface and GENTLY spread out dough to about 1 inch thickness (the less you touch this dough the fluffier and sexier these biscuits will be!).
6. Cut with a ring mold and place on a greased cookie sheet.
7. Take the scraps and gently press together using as little force as possible to form semi round-ish biscuits. These won't look as appetizing but they will taste 100% better than if you try to smoosh them together to be perfect-looking.
8. Bake at 450F for about 15 to 20 minutes or until they are golden brown.
9. Just before serving, brush biscuits with melted butter and sprinkle with salt (or cinnamon, or brown sugar, ect.)
These biscuits can make a simple breakfast of fried eggs and bacon seem like a mini vacation. Make sure to have some good jams and jellies on hand as well!

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