Biscuits and Gravy: Southern Comfort Food at its Finest
(photo by Amber Ryder)
by Whitney Long
The 2nd week of September is National Biscuits and Gravy week and yes… it is a legit culinary celebration!
While Wikipedia tells us “Biscuits and gravy are a popular breakfast dish amongst people of the Southern United States”, we beg to differ and believe that the biscuit and gravy gospel reaches far beyond the Mason Dixon line as evidenced by its appearance on menus around the country.
The Southern Coterie Southern has rounded up favorite recipes from some of our featured members and other southern foodies and chefs:
Amber Ryder – The Southern Coterie member and foodie/photographer who shares her stories of food and family and her love for the tradition of Southern food at www.fortheloveofthesouth.com
“I’ve never confronted a biscuit that I didn’t like. Biscuits were analogous with Saturday morning. The smell of chicory coffee and bread filled the air. I would watch the flat disks fluff up and brown in the oven. Then the little biscuits socialized in a basket with a dishcloth on top to keep them warm. The communion basket was then set on the table along with peanut butter, butter, syrup and fig and blackberry preserves. We would all partake of the offerings, and afterwards I would skip off happily with a tummy full of biscuits.”
(recipe adapted from The Blackberry Farm Cookbook – makes one dozen biscuits)
1 ¾ cups, plus 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon of salt
¾ teaspoon of baking soda
¾ teaspoon cream of tartar
¼ cup shortening, cut into 1-inch cubes and kept in fridge until ready to use
1 cup of buttermilk
½ stick of butter, room temperature, plus 2 tablespoons of melted butter for brushing
Preheat oven to 400. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, salt, baking soda and cream of tartar. Using your fingertips, or 2 knives, cut the shortening into the flour mixture until well combined (the texture should feel like coarse sand.) Make a well in the center of the mixture and pour in the buttermilk. Stir the mixture with a fork until the dough comes together. Turn the dough onto a well-floured surface and form a square with the dough that is roughly 1-inch thick. Spread the butter onto the center third of the dough, then bring the third closest to you over the buttered third. Finally, bring the remaining third over. This process is like creating an envelope with a piece of paper! Create another square that is roughly 1-inch thick and repeat the folding process.
Once the dough is in the square shape, cut out biscuits using a 2-inch biscuit cutter that has been dipped in flour. Arrange biscuits on a cookie sheet prepped with parchment paper that has been lightly buttered.
Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the biscuits are golden brown and lovely. Remove from oven and brush the tops with the remaining 2 tablespoons of melted butter. Enjoy!
Lauren Estridge – The Southern Coterie member and baker extraordinaire is a twenty something year old living just outside DC where she plans events, collects cookbooks and of course, bakes! Read more at www.whiskingthroughlife.com
“These are biscuits…biscuits with bacon and brown sugar, with a hint of pepper. These biscuits are simply delicious. They are “men” approved too. They are light and fluffy with crunchy bits of salty-sweet bacon throughout and definitely worth a try. Serve them for breakfast or lunch, topped with gravy or with a big bowl of tomato soup. Enjoy!”
Brown Sugar Bacon Biscuits
(recipe from Joy the Baker- makes about eight biscuits)
for the bacon-
6 slices of bacon
1 tablespoon brown sugar
coarse ground black pepper
for the biscuits –
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 to 1 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
3/4 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1 large egg
3/4 cup buttermilk
Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper. Cut the butter into cubes and place in the freezer.
Spread bacon across baking sheet in a single layer. Sprinkle with brown sugar and black pepper. Bake until crisp and cooked through, about 13 to 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and carefully use tongs to place the hot bacon on a cutting board. Don’t put the bacon on paper towels or they might stick. Allow to cool until you’re able to handle the slices and chop into medium chunks. Set aside.
Increase oven temperature to 425 degrees F. Line another baking sheet with parchment paper or foil, and set aside.
In a mixing bowl, sift together flour, sugars, baking powder, baking soda, salt and black pepper. Add frozen butter and use your hands to quickly break the butter into the flour until mixture resembles coarse meal. (You can also do this using your food processor. Pulse in the butter that has been cut in to cubes until resembles coarse sand.)
In another bowl, combine egg and buttermilk and beat lightly with a fork. Add to flour mixture all at once, stirring to incorporate. Once batter is nearly incorporated, add bacon and mix in.
You may want to dump the shaggy biscuit mixture onto a lightly floured board to knead together a few times. Don’t overwork the dough and melt the butter; just make sure it comes together.
Roll or pat dough into a 1-inch thickness. Cut into 2-inch rounds using a biscuit cutter or for glass. Reshape and roll dough to create more biscuits with excess scraps. Place on an ungreased baking sheet and bake at 425 degrees for 12-15 minutes.
Whitney Long, The Southern Coterie co-founder and lover of southern food, shares a super easy, yet yummy biscuit recipe, along with her top three favorite gravy recipes from her mother and grandmother.
“These biscuits are the best… the recipe had me at two ingredients! The gravy recipes are from my mom and grandmother and they are my #1 request when I go home and always make me feel like a kid again. Though each recipe is very different in its taste – sweet, salty, tangy – they are all delicious when poured over hot buttermilk biscuits.”
Two Ingredient Whipping Cream Biscuits
2 cup self-rising flour
1 cup whipping cream
Mix the two ingredients and stir with a fork. The dough will be stiff. Knead 12-14 times on floured surface til about 1/2″ thick and cut into biscuits. Bake 10-12 minutes on a lightly greased cookie sheet at 450 degrees.
Memommy’s Chocolate Gravy (aka Heaven on Earth)
1 cup white sugar
2 Tbs flour
2 Tbs. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/4 cups milk
1 Tbs. butter
Combine everything except butter in a heavy saucepan. Bring to boil, stirring constantly to prevent scorching. Once boiling, cut the heat down and stir for a minute more as it thickens. Take off heat and stir in butter. Serve hot poured over biscuits with an additional butter dollop.
1/2 pound sliced bacon, diced
1 small onion, chopped
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 can (14-1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
3 cups tomato juice
In a skillet, cook bacon until crisp. Remove to paper towels to drain; discard all but 2 tablespoons drippings. Cook onion in drippings until tender. Stir in flour, salt and pepper; cook and stir over low heat until mixture is golden brown. Gradually add tomatoes and tomato juice; stir well. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook and stir for 2 minutes. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 10-15 minutes or until thickened, stirring occasionally. Stir in bacon. Serve over biscuits.
Mama’s Milk Gravy
4 tbsp butter
4 tbsp flour
Salt and pepper to tast
2-1/2 cups milk
Melt butter in saucepan over low heat. Blend in flour, salt and pepper; cook until smooth and bubbly. Stir in milk. Heat to boiling on medium heat, stirring constantly. Stir and boil 1 minute. Makes enough gravy for 1 can biscuits.
Maryann Boyd – The Emmy winning filmmaker of the PBS documentary, The Rise of the Southern Biscuit, takes a look at the historic, cultural, and culinary look at the calling card of the South and follows the biscuit through history and into modern eateries where the “homemade” “from-scratch” biscuit reigns. Maryann also authored The Biscuit Dive Guide, a travel guide and recipe books of homemade biscuits served in the South. She is currently working on the sequel to The Rise of the Southern Biscuit, expanding on the charms of the South and Southern hospitality and blogs about it all at www.theriseofthesouthernbiscuit.weebly.com.
Editor’s note: The Rise of the Southern Biscuit documentary will air on Direct TV and DISH Network September 13th (tomorrow) at 7 pm Eastern time so check your local listing for channels.
“It all started a few weeks ago at my favorite coffee shop. The grand cranberry orange muffins in the pastry case waved at me through the glass — tempting me. We had a good long stare down, but, I did bite. mmm it was good But? You know? Not good enough. It was more like yellow cake with a hint of orange..and cranberries. It left me wanting something more. That burst of flavor. I wanted the taste to equal the muffin’s visual appeal. All flash might work in the muffin world but not in my biscuit world. Since I think biscuits and biscuits are my thing; I dreamed up my own Orange Cranberry Biscuit recipe, one you can roll out for the holidays. It is very orange, hearty and chock full of tasty fresh cranberries which, by the way, you can get cheaper this week than ever. I bought a bag for $1 yesterday. After downing a few hot out of the oven, I put most of mine in the freezer so I can serve them Thanksgiving morning with breakfast. They pair perfect with hot tea or coffee. Serve them hot with butter. They look and taste like a celebration.”
Cranberry Orange Biscuits
1 1/2 cups self rising flour
1/2 cup oats
1/4 cup sugar
3 Tablespoons of orange Jello (dry mix)
1/4 teaspoon orange zest
1/4 cup chilled butter
1 cup chopped cranberries covered in 2 Tablespoons of sugar
1/2 cup orange juice concentrate
1/4 cup milk or butter milk
Preheat oven to 450. Mix flour, oats, sugar, jell-o mix, grate in orange rind (about 1/4 tsp or as much as you’d like) ..cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Add cranberries and mix. Add liquid. Stir until dough is formed. Roll out onto a floured surface. Knead it about four times and roll to 2/3 inch thickness. Add some chopped sugared cranberries and sprinkle oats on the top of dough and press gently. Cut into rounds. Place in buttered pan and bake for 15 minutes or until done.
Recipe note: What I decided to do was to add rolled oats to my flour to give the biscuit a hearty taste. I used orange juice concentrate and some orange jell-o in the mix as well. I added some fresh grated orange zest. I chopped my fresh cranberries in my chopper with sugar. I also pressed some into the dough after I rolled it out and sprinkled oats to finish. These don’t rise super high but no worries, they are tender and so delicious.
For more on biscuits, check out these books and how-to videos
Books (available on www.amazon.com):
Southern Biscuits by Nathalie Dupree and Cynthia Graubart
Biscuit Bliss by James Villas
Big Daddy’s Buttery Biscuits
Sausage Gravy & Biscuits
Southern Tomato Gravy
Whitney- can’t wait to try that Chocolate Gravy!
The brown sugar bacon biscuits sound amazing! What a lovely mouthful!