Just Another Dirty Southern Brunch
Sometimes I just have these cravings…Southern cravings. They come on fast and hard and suddenly I just NEED to recreate something from my younger days. Yesterday I was entertaining friends for brunch. The night before, I was flipping through cookbooks, trying to find something complex and interesting to make. I was feeling particularly uninspired until I passed over a recipe for angel biscuits, which are basically biscuits leavened with yeast along with the more traditional baking powder. My mouth instantaneously started drooling as I recounted the feathery light biscuits the South is known for. And then there was nothing else I could possibly cook. There was no complicated quiche, no perfectly stacked benedict and certainly no fancy-pants pastry that could substitute for that biscuit. Thus, it was on.
And of course, where there’s biscuits, there’s bacon gravy.
But the biscuits. Did I mention they have yeast in them?
And of course, lard. Yes, I keep a block of lard in my freezer.
I rubbed the lard with some butter into my flour mixture.
And then poured in the yeast and some buttermilk.
I mixed (but just barely) that into a dough, pressed it out and stamped out my biscuits.
Then I let them rise by the fireplace until they were nice and puffed.
And then baked them until they had a nice crispy crust. And oh boy, they were yummy. Pretty much the perfect biscuit. So good that it almost seemed like a waste to pour gravy all over them. Not that that stopped me.
But could I stop with the biscuits and gravy? No. I wanted more. I wanted dirty. I wanted pimento cheese. Chances are that if you live on the wrong (or right) side of the mason-dixon line, you’ve never heard of such a thing. Let me tell you, it is kinda gross. And delicious. Think cheddar. Mixed with roasted peppers (In the South they have these jarred pimentos, I have no idea what makes those so special or why you can only get them there). And mayonnaise. Oh yes, I went there.
But since I DO have my limits, I at least made my own mayonnaise. Because that jarred stuff gives me the willies.
In a big bowl I threw in shredded cheddar, finely diced roasted red peppers, paprika, cayenne and some black pepper.
And stirred in my mayonnaise. Like I said, Dirty. It was not a brunch for the delicate eater, and I suspect I actually scarred Tessa (even though I totally caught her dipping a finger in the pimento cheese when she thought no one was looking), but it was worth the heartburn.
ANGEL BISCUITS RECIPE (adapted from Edna Lewis):
1 package (1/4 oz) active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
2 cups buttermilk, at room temperature
5 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 TBSP baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 TBSP salt
4 oz lard, cold
4 oz butter, cold
melted butter for brushing the biscuits
- Dissolve the yeast in the warm water, let stand for 5 minutes. Stir in the room temperature buttermilk.
- Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt i a large bowl. Mix thoroughly. Using your fingers, rub in the lard and butter, being careful to keep large flat pieces.
- Stir in the yeast and buttermilk and mix until just blended.
- Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead a few times, to make smooth. Roll to a thickness of 1/2″ and stamp out biscuits.
- Place biscuits on a parchment lined baking sheet. Cover lightly with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 45 minutes.
- Brush tops with melted but and bake in a preheated 450 oven for about 12 minutes, until golden brown.
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