I’d made some pulled pork and love to have it on southern-style biscuits. I went in search of an Alton Brown recipe, since he’s my go-to guy when there’s science involved (that is to say, when proportions, timing, and ingredient reactions matter). I found this recipe for southern buttermilk biscuits.
I made a few substitutions to keep it as local as possible, as indicated:
- 2 cups flour, from Wild Hive Farm and Micro Mill
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons butter, from Smyth’s Trinity Farm
- 2 tablespoons lard (replacing the same amount of shortening), from Saugatuck Craft Butchery
- 1 cup whole-milk plain yogurt (replacing the same amount of buttermilk), from Maple Hill Creamery
Since yogurt is an acidified dairy product, the chemical reaction we’d get with the buttermilk and the baking soda is the same and the biscuits will rise like we expect. Since shortening is a substitute for lard, I just went back to the original ingredient. (Major thanks to the folks at Saugatuck Craft for making lard!)
I did everything else just the way Alton wrote it:
Preheat oven to 450 degrees (F).
In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Using your fingertips, rub butter and shortening into dry ingredients until mixture looks like crumbs. (The faster the better, you don’t want the fats to melt.) Make a well in the center and pour in the chilled buttermilk. Stir just until the dough comes together. The dough will be very sticky.
Turn dough onto floured surface, dust top with flour and gently fold dough over on itself 5 or 6 times. Press into a 1-inch thick round. Cut out biscuits with a 2-inch cutter, being sure to push straight down through the dough. Place biscuits on baking sheet so that they just touch. Reform scrap dough, working it as little as possible and continue cutting. (Biscuits from the second pass will not be quite as light as those from the first, but hey, that’s life.)
Bake until biscuits are tall and light gold on top, 15 to 20 minutes.
I could not believe the exceptional taste in these biscuits! I mean they were sooo good. I’m giving the credit to the lard. And now that Bittman said it was okay to eat animal fat again…I’m happy to say that you too can get in on the new animal fat craze.
Never mind that CheeseSlave, Kimberly Hartke, Kelly the Kitchen Kop and Sally Fallon, and others have been saying all along that animal fats are not only okay to consume, but good for you and even necessary. No, they’re not saying to go hog wild and they are also saying to watch out what else you consume. They are simply saying that saturated animal fats are not the demons the canola and margarine people would have us believe.
If you have the time, this is an informative talk by Sally Fallon Morell on the Oiling of America.