Saturday, November 5, 2011

Mission Thanksgiving: Biscuits

Every year back home, it was a family Thanksgiving tradition to pop some cheap crappy, pre-baked rolls into the oven just as the turkey was finished, and completely forget about them until Thanksgiving dinner was half way done. Why did we have cheap, crappy pre-baked rolls at our house? No idea. Why did we forget about them? Probably because our hearts and minds were onto the big show after their time in the oven should have been done. Plus? Who gets excited about those rolls anyway? Or the Pillsbury whatevers that always start popping up in commercials around this time of year. Not this guy ::points to bigger half::
Major players
So, the mission this year is to prepare something for the bread plate that people actually are going to oooh and ahhh a bit over. I could purchase bread like I usually do at A&J King's, but after all that cooking, I really feel like it's kind of a cop out to have that one last thing be artisan, yes, but homemade, no.
And thus, I turn to the world of biscuits. I am most definitely not Southern, but my bigger half is kind of an adopted son of yonder parts of this country. As a navy family, he enjoyed many formative years in Texas, Virginia, and Mississippi. He loves biscuits, and is a real biscuit snob. What I personally know about biscuits is limited without his help, and the help of the google man that lives in my apple machine. But I did come across an article on Eatocracy a while back that featured a biscuit recipe from Lisa Fain, author of the Homesick Texan food blog, that seemed both easy to prepare, and built on honest family tradition. Homemade biscuits, something we don't get up here all that often, prepared on the instruction of an expert? Sign me up.
Ready for the oven
So today, I decided to test the recipe out. Note to anyone preparing their first or fortieth Thanksgiving dinner, never go all in on a recipe you've never tested before. The temptation to try something new or something with a lot of wow factor is overwhelming at times, but it can often spell disaster when you figure out at the wrong time that your oven is say dedicated to a forty pound bird when a recipe says it's time to broil something. Been there, done that.
Golden brown and puffy!
The recipe was easy, it took very few ingredients, and there was minimal prep time. I didn't have a cast iron pan on hand, so I just used a large skillet, and made sure to liberally butter the inside. Pounding the ball of dough was definitely the most fun part, and helped the whole mess to really rise up and grow flaky and tender in the middle. Also, the little sour cream glasses that my mother in law had bought us when we moved into our new place were the perfect size for cutting the biscuits. I'd say the entire process took less than a half hour, minus cook time, which was only fifteen minutes, and on turkey day, that's probably just about the right amount of time to keep people the hell away from the turkey so that the juices can redistribute, and to get everything else out on the table. Everything ready? Oh, the biscuits should be coming hot out of the oven, and we're ready to eat!
Now I just await my taste tester to get home, bring out a little Essex wildflower honey and butter, and go to town.
With butter and honey
Consensus, "These aren't Southern biscuits. They're too dense" Well, there's a big "ugh" moment. Whatever, I still think they're good, but I may be back to the drawing board. See, that's exactly why we always test recipes prior to gearing up for the big show on a certain Thursday in November. God forbid I serve dense biscuits at Thanksgiving dinner. 

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