Updated: Jan 24, 2021
You know, I feel like I might be more southern today than I was when I left South Carolina in 2014. Moving to the mid-west was tough at first; the people, the food, it was all so foreign to me and I won't lie, I had a tough time embracing my new life and location; and the snow... LORD, I HATED THE SNOW (for the most part I still do), but that's not too surprising, right? For a long time, I went without southern food, mainly because it almost hurt too much to make/eat, and sharing things, like grits, chow chow, pickled okra and collards couldn't be fully appreciated because, well, the people I was sharing them with weren't southern and didn't have the associated nostalgia or appreciation for these dishes. Hell, I remember in 2016 when my mom sent up a jar of pickled okra that she made using okra from my papaw's garden and as soon as I got it, I cracked that lid and stood there, behind the door of the pantry, eating them as hot tears streamed down my cheeks. Now mind you, I was pregnant and the hormones *probably* played a part in the tears, but it was the story behind the okra that, in the famous words of Drake, "had me in my feelings"; the okra was grown and picked by my sweet papaw, pickled by my mama. Growing, harvesting and cooking food in my family has always been a "love language" and imagining my papaw walking down the okra crop lines pinching and twisting the ready okra and putting into bushel baskets just had me all torn up.
But in 2017, my son was born and everything changed. My hibernating "southerness", tucked away, (mostly) hidden from view, began to emerge as I stared at this little person and thought of all the different people that made up his "ingredients" and half of those people are/were southern. The moment I saw him, I knew that I had the important job of preserving his southern heritage through the preservation of my own. I vowed that even though my southern family was far away, that I would keep them close to heart through the southern food I put on the table, the southern traditions I grew up sharing with my family, and some good ol' fashioned southern storytellin', to honor and make proud all of those incredible story tellers that I grew up around, especially my dear Uncle Bubba (Bryant).
So, to kick this whole thing off, I'd like to dedicate my very first post to the most southern thing I can think of (next to grits)... BISCUITS. My husband, Jai, just chimed in in the background, "biscuits should be your first post right out the gate"... good call babe, but I know that.
Now, biscuit recipes are unique to all southern families, not only in technique, but also in ingredients. Some people swear by Crisco, I however, do not, even though that's what my Meme and Mawmaw Mae use/used to make their biscuits. I'm team unsalted butter, always and forever, goodbye, the end. There are a few tricks to making stellar biscuits: 1) COLD unsalted butter 2) Buttermilk 3) Pastry blender 4) Dough folding 5) Don't overmix the dough and last, but definitely not least 6) NEVER TWIST the biscuit dough in the biscuit cutter.
Okay, so let's get started. First of all, you'll need the following ingredients:
2 cps of all purpose flour
1 tbsp of baking powder
2 tbsp of sugar
3 tbsp of cornstarch
3/4 tsp of baking soda
1 1/4 tsp of salt
3/4 cup + 2 tbsp of buttermilk
9 tbsp of cold, unsalted butter
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes
1) Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl:
Side note: I always use a fork to combine dry ingredients in lieu of a food processor; combine until all ingredients are mixed.
Cut butter into chunks
Use a pasty cutter to finely chop butter mixture into a crumb-like mixture
Side note: I always have a butter knife readily available. You'll notice that after you hand mix the butter, that it can get a bit clogged with butter pieces. When this happens, just "poke" those little pieces back into the mix and repeat as needed.
Step 4: Mix in the buttermilk
Side Note: I always use a large fork to mix in the buttermilk with the dry mix. I have found that using 3/4 cup + 2 tbsp of buttermilk is the "sweet spot" for getting the dough right where I want it. Ideally you just want that dough to come together without overmixing.
Hack: If like me, you never have buttermilk on-hand, you can actually make your own. Add 1 tbsp of vinegar to 1 cup of regular milk- let stand for at least 10 minutes. When I need to use this hack, I'll combine the milk and vinegar prior to the start of making biscuits and let sit until it's time to use.
Step 5: Dump out on lightly floured surface and shape
Shape into a pseudo rectangle by patting and flattening the dough ball.
Step 6 a): Cut the dough into thirds and stack
Step 6 b): Once you have your dough stacked, go ahead and flatten again, form into another rectangle and then this time, cut into fourths. From there, you stack, flatten into another rectangle about half an inch thick.
Step 7: Biscuit cutter time
Use your biscuit cutter (or a glass cup if you don't have a biscuit cutter) to cut out biscuit dough. IMPORTANT: NEVER, EVER TWIST THAT THE CUTTER WHEN YOU'RE CUTTING BISCUITS. All you have to do is insert your cutter until you cut all the way through the dough, then pull up. As you're cutting these out, go ahead and pop out onto a parchment lined pan.
Pop your biscuits into the oven for 15 minutes, until the tops have a nice brown color.
Step 8: EAT!
Side note: Feel free to brush a little honey butter over the top of these flaky little beauties. ENJOY!!! Jai ALWAYS enjoys his with strawberry jam.