Friday, May 27, 2011

Biscuit Bliss

Biscuits are serious business for some. Very serious business. I've read ongoing debates about the right ingredients, methods, as well as various tips and tricks. As a girl growing up in the Northwest and in a Norwegian household, I rarely caught sight of a biscuit,  let alone baked one. Regardless of what was normally on the table as a kid, I've become an avid southern food fan. It's comfort food to the hilt, just my kind of poison. My love of southern cuisine has given way to a curiosity about the highly revered, seemingly simple (but not so much so), southern born biscuit.

A recent trip to Portland (Oregon, of all places) only hightend my interest in baking up my very own batch of perfect biscuits. Breakfast at Pine State Biscuits is as close to a religious food experience as one can get. I spared no artery or fat cell at Pine State, ordering up what was both the most delicious and highly caloric plate ever placed in front of me. The Reggie Deluxe. Pine States famous (and by far the most perfect biscuit specimen I've ever had the pleasure to taste) stuffed with a giant piece of boneless white meat incredibly crispy and perfectly seasoned fried chicken, cheddar cheese, freshly fried bacon, an egg, and wait for it. . . sausage gravy. Let's recap - biscuit, fried chicken, bacon, cheese, egg, sausage gravy. And. I. ate. every. bite. The guy sitting next to me waned to his dining partner that he could never justify eating fried chicken for breakfast, and thus couldn't bring himself to order the The Reggie. I shot him a slight look of disgust and aiming to convey the one word that jumped into my head upon his confession, 'pussy', as I slowly relished every bite. Is it something you should eat every Saturday morning? Well, no. But at least once (twice, three, or perhaps twenty plus times) in your lifetime? Do I even have to answer that for you?

Upon my return home I searched, endlessly, for Pine States biscuit recipe, my version of the biscuit holy grail.  I turned up empty handed. For a moment, I thought I'd hit the jackpot when I found an article on Oprah's website for The Reggie. As I waited for the page to load I thought 'if these boys gave their biscuit recipe to anyone, it's Oprah', I believe that woman has the power to break, or buy anyone. So imagine my disappointment when the recipe was simply a list of ingredients, a blueprint if you will, the recipe suggested using a buttermilk biscuit, but hell if they were going to give you their recipe. Perhaps Oprah is not as powerful as I once thought? After some additional internet research, including reading multiple discussion boards regarding Pine States guarded biscuit recipe and hoping desperately to run across some jilted ex-employee serving up the recipe goods, and still failing to find anything remotely close to a recipe I gave up. Lucky for me I didn't give up on making biscuits, I gave up on Pine's recipe. 

These biscuits have the high rise I like mixed with a soft denseness, a touch of sweet mixed with plenty of savory goodness. The best biscuit I've ever made and my new go-to biscuit. It may not be yours, depending on your biscuit I.Q. this biscuit may not be your cup of tea. But for a newbie to the biscuit baking game, I loved these.

Close to Perfection Biscuits

Preheat oven to 400 F

4 cups flour
2 Tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup cold, cold butter
16 oz sour cream
3-5 teaspoons water 


1. Combine flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment.
2. Add pads of butter and pulse until you butter is the texture of pebbles in your flour mixture.
3. Add sour cream and water and pulse until just mixed. 
4. Dust a board or your counter with a bit of flour, turn dough onto surface, and knead very gently just to incorporate a dough (being careful not to heat the butter with your hands). 
5. Role dough to 1 - 1 1/2 inch thickness and cut with a biscuit cutter (or drinking glass, rim dipped in a bit of flour). Place evenly spaced on silpat or prepared baking sheet. 
6. Bake in heated oven for 14-17 minutes.
7. Remove from oven and cool slightly. 

Delicious warm out of the oven, with salted butter & plenty of sweet amber honey.