Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Bacchanalian Biscuits

Okay, let's be fair. Those could just as easily be men waiting for the perfect woman. Sure, you can tell the sex if you know a bit about bones but I don't think that picture is going to give you the necessary clues.

Anyway (number one), it's just a photo that always gives me a chuckle because, truthfully, I think perfection would be not only a bit intimidating, it could become downright boring. A few flaws here and there add character and zest to a personality.

Anyway (number two), skeletons go with Halloween and Halloween is almost upon us so this seemed fitting. That's my story and I'm sticking with it.

Anyway (number three), I forgot to recharge the batteries for the digicam so I don't have a picture of the result of the kewl new biscuit recipe I found. Yeah. You had to know I'd get back to food, one way or the other.

It sort of started with John and his Winter Chicken stew because I only used part of the chicken for the stew. Some of it went into the stew, some into the freezer, but all the scrap meat went into a roasting pan and then the oven. This morning I dredged through the roaster mess, scooping out fat and bones and chunks of skin and gristle until I was left with only lovely bits of meat and jellied juices. Looked like chicken gravy material to me, that's what.

Then my friends, Jack and Nanley, allowed as how they'd stop in for lunch after they pulled a morning run up Floras Creek, looking for potential venison. Hooboy, I said to myself. Bet they'd appreciate a hot lunch of chicken gravy and biscuits because it's a bit on the nippy side out there. (By the way, Nanley is actually Nancy but I've always called her Nanley and I don't have a clue why. It works for us.)

The gravy was easy. In a small skillet, I caramelized half a Vidalia sweet onion with some pretty fair chardonnay and added it to the chicken and jellied juices in the roasting pan. Then a little sea salt and seasoned pepper, bring it to a mild boil and add some thickening persuasion via corn starch (I think you Brits call it corn flour?) and the chicken gravy was almost as good as chocolate.

Jack and Nanley didn't know it but they were about to become my official Taste Testers for the biscuits. I tried out the recipe yesterday (in halved proportions) and liked it okay but felt the buttermilk was a bit overwhelming. Today, my approach was to do the full recipe but substitute beer for part of the buttermilk.

I can hear you muttering, "Is the woman mad? Wine in the gravy. Beer in the biscuits. Next thing you know, she'll be putting whiskey in the coffee."

Heh! Yup. Yuppers. That's what we did. When I look at what I've just written, I have to admit it sounds like a bacchanalian orgy of truly decadent proportions. It wasn't. Honest. And anyway, the biscuit project was a success. The beer proved to be a perfect balance to the buttermilk. And the biscuits themselves are wonderfully light and moist, even after they get cold. That's the best part. The next-to-best part is how much fun they are to make. Here's how it goes:

First you preheat the oven to 475 degrees fairyheight and spray (or oil or butter) an 8" cake pan.

In a mixing bowl, combine 2 cups flour, 1 tablespoon baking powder, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1/4 cup sugar. Mix well. Cut in 4 tablespoons butter until there are only pea-sized lumps.

Stir in 1 cup buttermilk and 2/3 cup beer. (If you don't want to use beer, milk, cream or water will work just fine.) Don't overmix, just blend everything good. Let stand a few minutes. The dough will be VERY wet, like cottage cheese. That's the way it's supposed to be. Now comes the fun part ...

Toss a cup of flour in another mixing bowl and line up that bowl, the bowl with the biscuit mixture and the greased pan. Grab a couple of soup spoons and use them to extract a lump of dough from the biscuit batter and dump it into the flour. Now, give the flour bowl a couple or three gentle tosses to spin the dough lump, covering it completely with flour. Dust your hands with some of the flour, pick up the dough ball, then toss it back and forth between your hands, shaking off the excess flour. It's like playing with a water balloon.

When the lump of dough is pretty well dusted off and more or less round (if you define "round" as squiggily-lumpy-funny), place it in the greased pan. Continue with dough ball after dough ball, tucking each one in snugly against the others. You want the biscuits to grow UP instead of out so crowding is a Good Thang.

Put the pan in the oven and set your timer for 20 minutes. When the biscuits are done, pull them out of the oven and let them sit for a couple of minutes. Then dump them out of the pan, break them apart and serve immediately to the cheering multitudes. When split open and covered with chicken gravy -- or ANY righteous gravy -- these biscuits will fill your tummy, soothe your soul and cure the heartbreak of psoriasis. They'll make you smile, too. What more can you ask from a comfort food?


John Bailey said...

Oh, Boy! Chicken gravy done the proper way!

bonnie said...

Yup the cartoon is funny. :-)
btw if one is perfect as they age and the memory goes they soon wouldn't be. lol

Wendy, NC said...

Lordy, Dee, John's gone and got us all in trouble again. Last night, it was chicken soup at our house--two days in the making. Now, if only we'd had some of your biscuits to go with it . . .

Dee said...

John, you always manage to make me feel good. Thank you.

Bonnie, when the memory goes, one becomes perfectly -- uhhhh -- gee. I forget.

Wendy, isn't it fun to blame John for everything? Well, he DID start us all off on this 107 Ways To Do Chicken marathon, didn't he?

Mage And George said...

No matter the recipe or my intentions, my buscuits always come out like lead.