Black Pepper & Garlic Buttermilk Biscuits
I don’t know anyone that doesn’t like a good biscuit. I mean, there are a lot of people out there who won’t eat them because of the carb content or because they can’t demonstrate self control and eat only one or two (dependent on the size of the biscuit, of course), but it doesn’t mean they hate biscuits. Growing up, when we had biscuits, they were straight from a blue Pillsbury can and they were the best. To be honest, they’re still pretty tasty and I don’t pooh-pooh them when I see a platter of them at someone’s house during the holidays or at dinner gatherings. But the taste of the fruits (or biscuits) of your labor is a million times better than anything you can buy in a can or a box, assuming you followed your recipe correctly.
My experience with making biscuits from scratch extends as far as Bisquick mix + milk and they turned out rather bland and didn’t quite rise properly. Crispy, floury-tasting disks. That’s more or less what I ended up with. Not ideal to go with breakfast, but it could have been a lot worse, I suppose. It still beats the failed attempt at clover biscuits (the pull-apart kind) last Thanksgiving that rendered the baked dough into hard little bricks. At least they were a pretty color, right? When I told the guys what was wrong with the biscuits and that they didn’t need to feel obligated to eat them, they definitely didn’t touch ’em. WAY TO DROPKICK MY EGO INTO THE CORNER, GUYS. I can’t blame them.
A few weeks ago, The Fellow™ and I headed to the cookhouse conveniently located 10 yards across the street from our house to grab breakfast. I ordered biscuits and gravy, as I really like their whole hog gravy, and walked out full and satisfied. I’ve been craving biscuits and gravy ever since then. At some point last week, I internally wished I could get their B&G for dinner and turns out, you can! Which is a very dangerous thing. However, I could take that $10 and put it to good use elsewhere, like making my own at home. The first step would be making biscuits and I needed an idiot-proof recipe.
I turned to my usual haunts on the internet and found nothing to my liking. I remembered I had pulled some of my favorite cookbooks out the other night – in search of dinner ideas – and I knew at least one of them had a biscuit recipe. The first book I picked up was The Homesick Texan Cookbook by Lisa Fain. Lucky me, there was a basic recipe I could bang out in just a few minutes. I immediately got to work, knowing I was approaching the hottest part of the day and hoping I could get the oven off by then. It means having room temperature biscuits with dinner, but it beats sweating my ass off and heating up the house to an unbearable degree.
The result was less than perfect, but better than my last attempt. They didn’t rise as much as they should have (more than likely due to the fact that they were rolled too thin, possibly my baking powder is ‘bad’, or I over-mixed/kneaded the dough), and therefore the layers I took extra care to fold and maintain weren’t visible. However! They were delicious. They were a good combination of crispy on the outside – without feeling like you’re eating a potato chip – and tender on the inside. The recipe could use a little more salt, as I found a quick smear of butter made them perfect. So if you decide to try this recipe, you might want to make sure you don’t 1) have bad baking powder, 2) roll them too thin, and 3) over-mix and over-knead the dough. And if you do any of the above, you’ll end up with a tasty disk.
Black Pepper & Garlic Buttermilk Biscuits
source: The Homesick Texan Cookbook [Biscuits]
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt*
8 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cold
3/4 cup half and half or buttermilk
1 1/2 Tablespoons black pepper
1 Tablespoon garlic powder
1/2 Tablespoon onion powder
*I would highly recommend upping the salt to a full teaspoon
1. Preheat the oven to 450º and grease a baking sheet or cast-iron skillet.
2. Mix together the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt.
3. Cut the stick of butter into pieces and work it into the flour mixture with your hands or a pastry blender until it resembles pea-sized crumbs. Add the half-and-half or buttermilk, mixing until the dough is a bit loose and sticky.
4. Pour the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for a minute. Dough should be smooth and no longer wet. You can sprinkle more flour on the surface if you find it’s sticking. Make the dough into a ball and hit it was a rolling pin, turning it and folding it in half every few whacks. Do this for a couple minutes.
5. Roll out the dough until it’s 1/4″ thick, then fold it in half. Using a round biscuit cutter, cut out the biscuits from the folded dough. Places on the greased baking sheet or cast-iron skillet close together, about 1/8″ apart (so they rise up not out), and bake for 15 minutes or until the tops are golden brown.