You might contend that fried chicken and biscuits falls into the indulgent category, but it doesn’t have to be the antithesis of healthy eating. We made this classic southern meal for the very first time, and it was so good without being particularly difficult, that we plan on doing it again very soon.
I suggested to Mike that we try our hand at this meal because I really wanted an excuse to make homemade buttermilk biscuits. Being a quick bread, they are not very different from one of my favorite obsessions, the scone. The recipe in a recent issue of Food & Wine was incredibly simple, with only four ingredients. I made one small change and mixed the dough with my fingers instead of a pastry blender or other tool.
I recently read in Cook’s Illustrated that this method would help create a biscuit with more flaky layers because the butter would get pinched and flattened by your fingers instead of getting turned into coarse crumbs by a pastry blender or food processor. Since hand mixing is the easiest way to go, and my biscuits had plenty of flaky layers, I definitely recommend it. Keeping the dough cold (so the butter stays solid prior to baking) and using a sharp biscuit cutter that will not smash together the layers you have created, are also important steps.
In a very distant childhood food memory, I recall the KFC buttermilk biscuit being the best part of the meal, but my homemade version beats the memory hands down. They are even better than the Pillsbury biscuits that come in the paper can that pops open. I’ve written up the biscuit recipe today, and I will give you the fried chicken in my Wednesday post, along with some tips to make this meal just healthy enough to have it whenever you get nostalgic for dinner in a bucket, only tastier.
There are quite a few Buttermilk Biscuit lovers in the blogosphere; here are a few recipes:
Accidental Hedonist's Buttermilk Biscuits
The Buttermilk Biscuits on Baking Sheet rise gorgeously high
Orangette’s Buttermilk Biscuits are made with Southern Flour (I don't know what it is, but I think I'd like it)
Mile High Biscuits from Meathenge look especially tasty modeled by Southern Biscuit Barbie
Buttery Buttermilk Biscuits
Adapted from Food & Wine magazine and Natalie Chanin
With so few ingredients, each one should be the best, so use a good quality unsalted butter that you really like. I used Plugra European style that you can find in most supermarkets. Kerrygold Irish butter and Organic Valley butter are two other brands that are delicious and widely available.
2 c. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 stick unsalted butter
¾ c. buttermilk
Prep the butter up to several hours ahead. With a floured knife, cut it into ¼ to ½ inch cubes. Spread the cubes out on a plate, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Whisk together the flour baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Add the cold butter, fold into the flour and combine, using your fingers to break up the chunks of butter into slightly flattened bits. At this point, the dough will still be very powdery and should not come together. Add the buttermilk and stir gently with a wooden spoon just until all the flour is dampened. If you still have a lot of excess flour, add a few more drops of buttermilk until you have a barely cohesive, shaggy mass of dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and pat the dough together with floured hands. Flatten into a thick disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes or up to 2 hours.
While the dough chills, preheat the oven to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the disk of dough on a lightly floured surface and roll out to ½ inch thick. Use a floured metal 2 ½ to 3 inch biscuit cutter to stamp out as many biscuits as you can, dipping the cutter into some flour with each biscuit. Place biscuits on the baking sheet. Collect the dough scraps, quickly re-roll and finishing stamping out biscuits. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until risen and lightly browned. Serve immediately with butter.
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