South’s beloved biscuits have become a hot commodity

When Carolyn Green of Ravenel asked for recipes for cheese biscuits, I immediately thought of the 2011 cookbook “Southern Biscuits” (Gibbs Smith).

Co-authors Nathalie Dupree, one of Charleston’s own, and Cynthia Graubart of Atlanta finally gave a proper throne to a food beloved in these “parts.” Kudos to them for realizing it was long overdue.

Since then, others have come forth to show some love to biscuits. So biscuits seem to be trendy, “hot” if you will. And what’s not to like about a hot biscuit?

So let’s get down to bisc-ness. Here’s their recipe for “pimento” — properly spelled pimiento — cheese biscuits.

Pimento Cheese Biscuits

Makes 16 to 18 biscuits



Ingredients

21/4 cups self-rising flour, plus more as needed

1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

4 ounces pimento or roasted red bell peppers, chopped (from a jar)

1/4 cup finely chopped onion (optional)

1 cup regular or low-fat buttermilk

2 to 4 tablespoons melted unsalted butter, for brushing



Directions

Position the top oven rack in the upper third of the oven; preheat to 450 degrees. Brush a baking sheet with a little softened butter.

Combine 2 cups of the flour and the cup of cheese in a food processor; pulse two or three times. Scatter the 1/4-inch butter pieces over the flour mixture and pulse two or three times, then scatter the 1/2-inch butter pieces over the flour mixture and pulse two or three times, until the mixture resembles well-crumbled feta cheese, with no piece larger than a pea.

Add the pimento or roasted red pepper, the onion, if using, and 3/4 cup of the buttermilk. Pulse briefly to incorporate. When the blade stops, remove the lid and feel the dough. Add just enough of the remaining buttermilk or flour as needed; pulse to form a slightly wet dough. Pulse once or twice more until the dough looks shaggy but holds together.

Generously dust the work surface with flour. Use more of the flour to coat your hands.

Turn the dough out onto the work surface and sprinkle the top of the dough lightly with flour. Fold the dough in half, then pat it out into a 1/3- to 1/2-inch-thick round, using a little additional flour only if needed. Flour again if necessary and fold the dough in half a second time. If the dough is still clumpy, pat and fold a third time.

Pat the dough out into a round 1/2-inch-thick for regular biscuits, 3/4-inch thick for tall biscuits and 1-inch thick for large biscuits. Brush any visible flour from the top. For each biscuit, dip a 2-inch biscuit cutter into flour and cut out the biscuits, starting at the outside edge and cutting very close together, being careful not to twist the cutter.

Dough scraps may be combined to make additional biscuits, although they make tougher biscuits.

Carefully transfer the biscuits to the baking sheet, arranging them so they are touching each other. Bake on the top oven rack for 6 minutes, then rotate the baking sheet front to back. If the biscuits seem to be browning too quickly on the bottom, slip a second baking sheet under the first one to help insulate the biscuit bottoms. Bake for 7 to 9 minutes, until the biscuits are light golden brown on top.

When the biscuits are done, brush the tops with melted butter. Turn the biscuits out upside down onto a plate to cool slightly. Serve hot, right side up.

Also this year, the University of North Carolina Press published “Biscuits” by Belinda Ellis, which is part of its “Savor the South” cookbook series.

Since everyone, well, most meat eaters at least, seems to agree that bacon makes everything taste better, why not follow Ellis’ lead in this recipe:

Bacon-Cheddar Biscuits

Makes 8 biscuits



Ingredients

2 cups soft wheat all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch chunks and chilled for 15 minutes

6 to 8 ounces smoky bacon

1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided

3/4 cup buttermilk, plus more if needed

1 tablespoon rendered bacon fat



Directions

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Use a baking sheet.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, brown sugar and pepper in a large mixing bowl. Cut in the butter until it’s the size of small peas.

In a skillet over low heat, cook the bacon until done. Drain on paper towels, reserving the rendered fat. Finely chop the bacon and return to the skillet. Cook over low heat until the bacon is crisp and most of the fat is rendered, about 7 minutes. Allow to cool slightly.

Stir the bacon and half of the cheese into the flour mixture. Add the buttermilk and rendered bacon fat and stir to combine. Add additional buttermilk if needed to create a sticky dough.

Using an ice cream scoop or heaping tablespoon, drop the biscuits onto the baking sheet. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.

Bake for 12 minutes, or until the biscuits are golden brown.



Harriet Little of Summerville copied this recipe from a 1996 Post and Courier column. “It is quick and easy and usually gets raves,” she notes.

This recipe is known as the Red Lobster knockoff.

Readers at the time it was published here said it is dead-on.

Cheese Garlic Biscuits

Makes 10 to 12 biscuits



Ingredients

2 cups Bisquick baking mix

2/3 cup milk

1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese (2 ounces)

1/4 cup margarine or butter, melted

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder



Directions

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Mix baking mix, milk and cheese until soft dough forms; beat vigorously for 30 seconds. Drop dough by spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown. Mix margarine and garlic powder. Brush over warm biscuits before removing from cookie sheets.

Variation: Add dried parsley to the blend of margarine and garlic powder that’s brushed on top after baking.

Who’s got the recipe?

Debra Taylor of Mount Pleasant is looking for a recipe for a shrimp and grits casserole that would be good for tailgating, preferably one that could be put together the night before. She also prefers more of a gravy-type recipe versus a tomato and peppers version.

LaBrasca’s lives on: Maude Johnson of West Ashley requests the recipe for LaBrasca’s meatballs “and sauce, too, if you can get it.”

She writes, “I recently moved back to Charleston after living in Birmingham, Ala., for 37 years. Two weekends ago I got together with cousins to reminisce about the ole days when we were kids. Of course, LaBrasca’s restaurant was mentioned fondly. We all had memories of riding with our parents to pick up Sunday dinner: the best (best-est in the world?) meatball spaghetti. I can still remember the wonderful aroma of their restaurant.”



Looking for a recipe or have one to share? Reach Features Editor Teresa Taylor at food@postandcourier.com or 937-4886.

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