Hubby and I went on a much-needed weekend away from home, to the beautiful Appalachian foothills in northern Georgia this past weekend. We did this trip several years back and loved it. Hubby’s been asking to go back ever since and I finally just booked it a few months ago and said work-be-damned, this is when we’re going. Be ready. We took the dogs. They had a splendid time nosing around in woods and a cabin that wasn’t their normal stomping ground. Helen is an adorable German-themed town just a few miles away, where we visited for gifts for the family and general good times. I even got some pics of a beautiful moth that hitched a ride on my slippers while out walking the dogs one day. The poor thing was really trying to literally hang on, cold as it was. Kind of makes you wish they could survive the winters and just live on. Other than that? We got a little snow the morning we left.
It occurred to me a few days before leaving that there wouldn’t be anything for the food blog, since sis and I normally cook on the weekends. So for all of you, mind, I whipped these biscuits up two nights before we left. It was one of those times when it seems everything that could go wrong did. Know those times? You just want some peace and quiet and schedule a day in for it, but fifty telemarketers decide that’s the day you get to experience their awesome sales pitches? Or how about baking the perfect cake, but then the cat jumps onto the counter and licks it. And then decides it’s not good enough for him and flounces away, as cats are wont to do. That last, with the cat, hasn’t actually happened, but that’s the kind of thing I imagine happening since our cat has gone insane with the new dog hounding him, and takes shelter from the dog on our counters. Yeah. Hello, disinfectant. The telemarketer day from hell has happened. More than once. And to top it all off, hubby had to work so late that we didn’t get to have them for dinner that night after all. Boo. We cooks want to be praised immediately for our efforts.
What happened while making these, and why things went wrong, is: a. It was a work-week night, when I literally have about three hours after getting home with kidlet to do anything. Her schoolwork, her bath, dinner, etc; b. Mine and sis’s photo light died, or the bulb blew. Which blows! My kitchen has terrible lighting to boot. That’s why we use a photo light. My photos were coming out just awful. The ones below have been heavily edited.; c. Between the standard interruptions from kidlet and the dogs, it felt like these things took me forever to make.
But they’re good.
And so purty. Yeah, a purty biscuit!
I went ahead and cooked up the bacon the traditional pan-fried way, but you can also line a large rimmed cookie sheet with heavy aluminum foil, line your bacon on it and bake it in the oven at about 400 degrees, about 20 minutes, flipping the bacon over once at 10 minutes in. Watch it closely though, you may have to cook it less or longer. You want the bacon to be crunchy but not burned.
I think chives are some of the most divine-smelling things when freshly chopped, but I also have a proclivity towards anything that smells like onions. I used extra chives since they also tend to dampen a bit in flavor when added to things like this that are cooked.
I did freshly grate my cheddar for this recipe, but you’re certainly welcome to buy the already shredded bagged kind and save some time that way. The only thing is pre-shredded can be a little dry, so when I make stuff like this I usually opt to freshly grate. There will probably be a day, though, where I say screw it and grab a bag ‘o shredded and toss it in. We all have days like that, ain’t no shame.
The dry ingredients and cold, cubed butter are pulsed together in this recipe via a food processor. This does make it much easier, but if you don’t have a food processor, get a pastry blender and use it to cut the butter in till you get that small granule texture. If you don’t have a pastry blender, you could use a large or regular size fork, this being the slowest process of the three. Combine the flour mixture, bacon, cheese and then gradually add in the buttermilk.
This recipe makes a huge amount of biscuit dough. It says it makes twelve (when using a 1/2 cup measuring cup to scoop up individual biscuits), but I got 14, easy. This method makes large biscuits, about three and a half inches across. You could also make much smaller ones if you wanted to make them a cute little appetizer with ham slices in between, maybe using a 1/4 cup measuring cup. Not heaping, but slightly packed and leveled off.
These things smell divine when baking and they turn out looking really good, a surprisingly purty biscuit.
The original recipe suggested splitting them in half, slathering on some dijon mustard and adding some ham slices, which I thought was a fantastic idea. I made these up and served them alongside soup. They’d make a wonderful accompaniment to tons of dishes or work great for breakfast – the possibilities are endless.
Texture-wise, I want to say they’re more like a scone than a biscuit. To me, biscuits are a little lighter than these were, so be aware that they may be a little heavy texture-wise. And they tasted better the next day, reheated (in the micro-wave because I was too lazy to get out my toaster oven) with a little butter on them. Mmmmm. The sis cooking/blogging partner liked them. Hubby liked them – a success in my book.
Cheddar, Bacon and Fresh Chive Biscuits
Prep Time: 25 minutes Cook Time: 18-20 minutes per sheet of biscuits Level: easy Makes: 12 large biscuits
Position rack just above center of oven and preheat to 425°F. Line heavy large baking sheet with parchment paper. Cook bacon in heavy large skillet over medium heat until crisp and brown. Transfer bacon to paper towels to drain, then chop coarsely.
Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in processor; blend 5 seconds. Add butter cubes. Blend until coarse meal forms, about 30 seconds. Transfer flour mixture to large bowl. Add cheddar cheese, fresh chives, and chopped bacon; toss to blend. Gradually add buttermilk, stirring to moisten evenly (batter will feel sticky).
Using lightly floured hands, drop generous 1/2 cup batter for each biscuit onto prepared baking sheet (or form into rounds, flattening slightly like you would a hamburger patty), spacing batter mounds about 2 inches apart.
Bake biscuits until golden and tester inserted into center comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes. Brush biscuits lightly with melted butter. Let cool 10 minutes. Serve biscuits warm or at room temperature with honey, if desired.
This recipe makes some honking-big biscuits. So while it suggests using a 1/2 cup measure to scoop up the biscuit dough for each one, you can definitely make them smaller if you’d like and stretch the dough out more.
Because the biscuits were so big I had to use two parchment-lined baking sheets, getting six biscuits on each. Another trick, if you don’t have parchment paper – just use aluminum foil as your baking sheet. Pull out two long sheets of it, enough to double each into a sheet big enough for about 6 biscuits. Don’t try to cook all the biscuits on one sheet of foil; it’ll get difficult to remove them from the oven later as they’ll probably want to slip and slide off the foil; the foil will be hot at first but quickly become easy to handle bare-handed when removing from the oven. One benefit to using the foil as a baking sheet, the bottoms of the biscuits do not get hard and dark brown. They stay a nice golden color and the same crustiness as the rest of the outside of the biscuit.
It does get harder to incorporate the buttermilk merely stirring (my arm felt like it wanted to fall off) with a spoon, so I eventually used my hands to finish incorporating it all together, which worked best since the dry ingredients tend to want to keep settling on the bottom of the bowl. The dough itself didn’t get as sticky as I thought it would based on the warning above, and with using a little flour on my hands, the dough was actually very easy to handle and form into rounds. Given that the dough wasn’t really all that wet, this just worked best for me as opposed to the drop method.
Reviews for the recipe (which you can get to following the link above, right below the bolded recipe title) were helpful to look over. One suggested all-purpose flour as opposed to bread flour, and the person had good results. I’ll probably try AP flour next time, too. If you don’t have bread flour, but you do have AP, just use the AP and save a little money.