Biscuits–A Southern Staple

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Cooking with Caro

By Carolyn Ten Broeck, Editor

My Grandma Nora made the best biscuits I’ve ever tasted.
They were light, flaky and had a unique extra something that made them stand apart from other biscuits.
My mother made a good biscuit too–hers were of the cat head variety: big, golden brown and crusty on top and bottom and tender and fluffy on the inside.
It’s no wonder that I spent the next four decades trying to emulate the Queens of Biscuit–and each time, coming up sadly short.
My biscuits tasted fine-most of the time-and looked appetizing about half the time, but they never could measure up against Grandma’s or my mother’s.
For many years, my family had the standard canned biscuit–and later the frozen ones, but I didn’t give up–I kept trying.
I gave up trying to make them like my mother, and sought ways to make them more like Grandma’s.
Here’s what I knew: she used fresh buttermilk–from her cow, Pet and she only used lard.
She had a special bowl–actually a small aluminum dishpan, that was only used to make biscuits. She cut them with a Vienna sausage can and she put a little meat drippings–sausage, bacon, chicken–on top of them before they were baked.
What it took me 20 years to realize was the real secret.
My grandma made biscuits every day of her life as long as she was able. After she cut the last biscuit with the can, she would reserve whatever dough was left, wrap it in wax paper and save it for the next batch at the next meal. In essence, it was almost a sourdough biscuit because the dough was never refrigerated no matter what the temperature.
When Tom and I started dating, I learned quickly how much he enjoyed breakfast. I set a goal to make him biscuits that he would rave about to his friends.
Well, we’ve been together almost 10 years, and married for three, and there hasn’t been any raving. Yet.
Two weeks ago, we went away for our anniversary and as we were getting ready for dinner one night, I saw someone on Food Network making biscuits. I paused long enough to listen.
And then I came home, researched recipe after recipe until I found one that sounded very much like Grandma’s recipe.
I combined the recipe with the Food Network’s tips, and I tell you–I reached nirvana on my first attempt.
Sunday, I made them again–just to prove it wasn’t a fluke–and after more than four decades, I can now say I’m proud of my biscuits.
I’m just waiting for the raving to begin.

Lard Biscuits

2 C White Lily flour-it must be White Lily. It is milled from only 100 percent pure, soft red winter wheat and is finer and softer than any other brand.
1/2 C chilled lard. It has to be lard. No other shortening can compare. And it must be cold.
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 C buttermilk
2/3 C heavy whipping cream
flour for mixing biscuits.

Preheat your oven to 475 degrees. Grease biscuit pan–I use a deep pie pan.

In a bowl combine flour and salt, mix with a whisk.
Add the lard and work with your fingers until the flour/lard combination is the size of peas in your fingers.
Create a well in the middle of the flour/lard, add milk and cream. Stir with a fork until it is mixed. Do not beat. Do not over stir. It will look like a big cheese curd.
Turn the dough onto a floured surface. It will be very wet. Use just enough flour on it to make it smooth by patting it. DO NOT knead it.
Fold the dough from the right. Pat down. Fold one more time. Pat. This is what gives you layers.
Pat dough into an 8-inch rectangle.
Cut with a biscuit or round cookie cutter (or a glass if you don’t have either)
DO NOT twist the cutter/glass.
Press firmly into dough. Raise the cutter and put the dough in prepared pan.
Bake in hot oven for 15 minutes.
This recipe makes 8 large biscuits because of the size cutter I use.