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Biscuits are in my blood. My great-grandmother Zella was a proper, Virginia-born Southern lady who, with her hands, could whip up lard, flour, and “sour milk” into fluffy, golden biscuits—no spoon or bowl necessary. Her biscuits were magical, and for years, I had an affinity for the simple, three-ingredient kind. That is until I became involved with the International Biscuit Festival and Southern Food Writing Conference, where I met hundreds of precise and “make by feel” biscuit bakers that turned me on to riffs on traditional biscuits (buttermilk, sour cream, heavy cream) and creative biscuits (benne seeds, black raspberry, and parmesan), too.
In the last five years, I have created many biscuit recipes. What I have come to know is that once you get a good handle on biscuit making fundamentals, you can experiment and have some fun. Because cooking with vegetables is my passion, I have played around with all kinds of produce. While I have several that I personally love, my Cauliflower Bacon Biscuits have turned out to be the hands-down crowd favorite, even being named one of the best at the 2016 International Biscuit Festival. They’re like eating a loaded baked potato in biscuit form… and they’re quite addictive.
Memorize these points, and your biscuits will turn out beautifully every time:
- Use a premium, soft winter wheat flour; a well-produced buttermilk, cream or yogurt; and good sweet cream butter, as my great-grandmother would say.
- Make sure your butter or whatever fat you’re using is extra cold right before using. This recipe uses frozen butter, which is grated right over the mixing bowl.
- Work the dough just enough to bring it together—otherwise biscuits will be tough. Pockets of butter or shortening make biscuits rise and turn out flaky.
- When the dough is rolled out, cut individual biscuits once, and no more than twice if you re-roll.
- Get your oven good and hot. 400°F-450°F is ideal for tender-on-the-inside, crispy-and-golden-on-the-outside biscuits.
Using vegetables and fruit in biscuits is a little tricky because excess moisture in biscuit dough causes biscuits to not rise. Usually, the best way to work with produce—especially fruit like berries—is to keep it extra cold or frozen just before mixing into the dough. Another trick is to coat them with flour to wick away the extra wetness. For my cauliflower biscuits, there is another trick—using several layers of paper towels to press out as much liquid from the cooked cauliflower as possible before placing it in the dough. With these few tips in mind, the creativity is fairly endless with biscuits. I highly encourage you to play around with ingredients and come up with your own fun versions.
My cauliflower bacon biscuits are fairly foolproof and are a great way to kickstart biscuit creativity. I like to make these as a quick savory side dish for supper, but they can be made bite size for poppable party fare—just double the recipe, in that case, because they go quickly.
- 6 pieces of thick cut bacon
- 1 medium head of cauliflower (about 3 lbs.)
- 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt
- 2 cups grated extra sharp cheddar cheese
- 1 stick unsalted butter, frozen
- 1 cup buttermilk, well shaken + a bit more if needed
- 3 scallions, green part only, finely chopped
Chadwick is the host of “Reel Food with Chadwick Boyd,” a groundbreaking new series that brings food entertainment to 14,000 movie screens nationwide every month. He regularly appears on Food Network, the Harry Show, NBC, Fox, PBS and Lifetime; contributes to Better Homes & Gardens; and has been featured in House Beautiful, Redbook, and Southern Living, among many other publications. He has test kitchens in New York City and Atlanta.