Thursday, February 4, 2010

Bacon, Cheddar and Chive Biscuits

My friend Molly hosted a dinner party on Tuesday for a couple of us ladies. In between chatting about NPR, knitting clubs and health care, we managed to eat a fantastic meal. Molly made Mark Bittman's recently posted Scallop Gumbo. This is a "lighter" gumbo than the traditional ones (usually containing sausages and either shrimp or chicken), and still manages to be rich and satisfying due to a well-developed roux. Instead of using the recommended larger sea scallops, Molly used smaller bay scallops which worked perfectly and required no slicing.

Fun Fact: the scallop is the State Shell of New York. No bull!

Doesn't Molly's table look gorgeous?

For my contribution, I made the aforementioned biscuits (a word I ALWAYS spell "buiscuts") from this month's Bon Appetit. These guys are monsters--the magazine suggests making ham sandwiches from them--but, of course, their decadence is part of their appeal.

I don't have a baking tray big enough to accommodate all that dough at once, so I baked them on two sheets, one on the lower rack and one above, and rotated them half-way through baking. I'd also recommend keep a close watch on them: mine took way less than 18 minutes (more like 12). And, most importantly, make sure to fry up an extra piece of bacon for the inevitable kitchen gnome who always seems to make off with (at least) one slice every time.

As a bonus, the leftovers (if there are any) make a killer egg sandwich, somewhat reminiscent of this one that's been going around the internets--except that I couldn't poach an egg to save my life.

I pretty much stuck to the recipe this time, but I imagine that other combinations of cheese/herb/cured ham would work beautifully. My only change was not using bread flour because I didn't feel like hauling it from the store.

Cheddar, Bacon and Fresh Chive Biscuits
Bon Appetit February 2010, adapted slightly due to laziness

6 thick-cut bacon slices
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes, plus melted butter for brushing
2 1/2 cups (packed) coarsely grated sharp cheddar cheese (about 12 ounces)
1/3 cup chopped fresh chives
1 3/4 cups chilled buttermilk

Position rack just above center of oven and preheat to 425°F. Line heavy large baking sheet with parchment paper. Cook bacon in heavy large skillet over medium heat until crisp and brown. Transfer bacon to paper towels to drain, then chop coarsely.

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in processor; blend 5 seconds. Add butter cubes. Blend until coarse meal forms, about 30 seconds. Transfer flour mixture to large bowl. Add cheddar cheese, fresh chives, and chopped bacon; toss to blend. Gradually add buttermilk, stirring to moisten evenly (batter will feel sticky), adding more buttermilk if needed.

Using lightly floured hands, drop generous 1/2 cup batter for each biscuit onto prepared baking sheet, spacing batter mounds about 2 inches apart.

Bake biscuits until golden and tester inserted into center comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes. Brush biscuits lightly with melted butter. Let cool 10 minutes. Serve biscuits warm or at room temperature with honey, if desired.

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