Thursday, October 2, 2008

Chive Biscuits

I love making biscuits and muffins, although I don't very often. This particular recipe calls for a lot of butter, so they're not healthy, but they sure taste awesome. It is so ironic that the foods we love the most are usually the most unhealthy.

Biscuits are surprisingly easy to make. Some people are afraid to make them, but if you try these once, you'll be hooked. Yes, I do buy the biscuits in a can when I'm in a big hurry, but this time, I wanted the smell of fresh, homemade biscuits to go along with the pot roast I had in the crock pot all day long. And these did smell amazing when they came out of the oven. If you don't like chives, you can use any herb you want. Rosemary would be great with a pork, ham, or chicken dish...hmm...we may have to try that later.

Now, the secret to good biscuits is to handle the dough as little as possible. The more you mess with it, the more the gluten develops in the flour, and then you end up with tough little hockey pucks instead of tender biscuits. So, be gentle. You don't even need a rolling pin or a biscuit cutter for these.

Are you ready? Got your apron on? Let's bake...

Chive Biscuits

1 stick unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup whole milk (may need 1-2 tablespoons more)
1/4 cup fresh snipped chives

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. (The original recipe called for 500 degrees, but my oven runs a bit hot, so I cut it back to 475. Adjust your oven temperature as necessary--if your biscuits brown too quickly on top, or burn on the bottom, you may need to go down to 475 like I did). Lightly grease a baking sheet with cooking spray (or you can line the sheet with parchment paper/foil and save on the clean up time later).

Cut the butter into 1/4 inch pieces, place them into a small bowl, and put in the freezer while you mix up the dry ingredients. One trick to biscuits that bake up light and rise well is to keep the butter cold, and bake them quickly in a very hot oven.

In a large bowl, combine the flour and chives. Toss together with a fork until the chives are coated with the flour. Doing this step first keeps the chives from sticking together and ensures they are well incorporated into the flour. Now add the baking powder, sugar, and salt. Take the butter from the freezer and cut them into the flour with a pastry cutter, 2 knives, or your hands (my preferred method). You want the mixture to look like coarse crumbs, but with a few larger pieces of butter visible in the flour.

Stir in the milk with a large spoon, and mix gently until the dough just comes together. If the dough seems dry, or won't form large clumps, add a tablespoon or two of milk. Gently knead the right in the bowl just a few times. Add a sprinkle of flour to keep the dough from sticking to the bowl and your hands. Don't be tempted to dump in any more flour than necessary, this will make your biscuits tough.

On a lightly floured surface, pat the dough into a circle, rectangle, oval, (really any shape is fine) to an even thickness of 1/4 inch. Sprinkle the dough with a bit of flour if necessary to keep it from sticking to your fingers. Then take a sharp knife or pizza cutter, and cut the dough evenly into pieces about 2 to 2 1/2 inches wide. If you want to make the biscuits bigger or smaller, go right ahead...there are no official rules about this! This doesn't give you uniform biscuits, but really, it's not important. Besides, I give the smaller biscuits to the baby, and he could care less. This is really a no fuss method of making biscuits; you don't need to bother with a rolling pin and have flour flying all over the place. This also eliminates the need for a biscuit cutter, rerolling the scraps, and cutting out more biscuits. There is no waste here, and it's done in one simple step.

Transfer the biscuits to your prepared sheet, and bake for 10-12 minutes or until they are light golden brown.

Serve them warm or at room temperature. I discouraged the kids from putting more butter in them (one stick of butter in the dough is enough!), but they did put honey on them. Personally, I like them just as they are.

Just to be fancy, I had these in the bread basket and took a picture before I put them on the table.

Trust me, the smell alone is worth the work for these biscuits. God bless your table tonight!

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