Much like Krispy Kreme and its famous “Hot Now!“ donuts sign, I think Southern cooks could benefit from a “Hot Now!” biscuits sign. Call this neon biscuit beacon an updated version of hollerin’ or triangle-ringing – the modern day equivalent of the traditional dinner bell. Or breakfast bell. Or supper bell. Or all three as scratch buttermilk biscuits are welcome at each, sometimes even in the same day!
One potential problem with this sign is that uninvited guests might show up, unable to resist the seemingly magnetic pull of the hot light. Unfortunately for them, when it comes to sausage biscuits, I don’t share very well – just ask my husband and kids. My solution? I’ll tinker with the sign so that it reads “Not Now!” and keep the biscuits to myself.
adapted from The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook by Matt Lee and Ted Lee
makes about 18 2½-inch biscuits
- 4½ cups (18 ounces) sifted cake flour, plus more for your work surface and hands
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 12 tablespoons (6 ounces) unsalted butter, diced and frozen
- 1½ cups (12 ounces) whole buttermilk, straight from the ‘frig
- 1 pound pork sausage, sliced while still cold
1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
2. Whisk together the dry ingredients. Cut in butter until it resembles coarse crumbs with a few pea-sized pieces. I like to do it with my fingertips but you can use a fork, pastry blender, or food processor if you like doing extra dishes. (I’m lazy.)
3. Make a well in the center and pour in the buttermilk. Mix until it just comes together. Dump out onto a floured board, knead briefly, and pat it into a rectangle about 6×10” and 1” thick.
4. Fold the right third of the rectangle over the center third and fold the left on top, like a tri-fold wallet. Turn the dough a quarter turn, pat it into a 6×10” rectangle, and fold it upon itself in thirds again. Repeat one more time, then pat the dough into a 6×10” rectangle about 1” thick.
5. Using a floured 2½” biscuit cutter, cut out the biscuits and place them on an ungreased baking sheet. Place them almost touching if you want softer sides and farther apart, about 1½”, for crisper edges. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the tops just begin to brown.
6. Meanwhile, heat a cast iron skillet until it’s scorching hot. Fry sliced sausage until it’s brown and crusty. Flip and brown the other side. Drain on paper towels.
7. Serve biscuits hot from the oven, split open and slapped with sausage. Serve with eggs and fruit if you’re feeling fancy.
8. In the unlikely event you have any leftover, store the biscuits at room temperature in an airtight container and the sausage in the chill chest. The leftovers won’t be as good as fresh biscuits but they’re still better than what you can get from the frozen food aisle or a fast-food restaurant.
- Unlike the Lee Bros., I don’t like sugar in my biscuits. But, if you do, you can add about 2½ tablespoons sugar.
- 4 cups (16 ounces) sifted White Lily all-purpose flour can be substituted for the cake flour.
- Weighing the ingredients makes it easy to remember. 3 parts flour: 1 part butter: 2 parts buttermilk (Can you tell I’m into Michael Ruhlman’s book Ratio right now? He calls his version “Chicago biscuits” because 312 is Chicago’s area code.)
- I prefer using all butter for extra taste but the Lees Bros. use 8 tablespoons butter and 4 tablespoons cold lard or vegetable shortening for extra flakiness.
- Full-fat buttermilk is important here. Now, repeat after me – “Fat is flavor. Fat means tender. Fat is good!” We like the locally made stuff from Hatcher Dairy but if you don’t live ’round these parts, you can make your own. Mix 1½ tablespoons of vinegar or lemon juice with 1½ cups of whole milk. Let it sit until it curdles, about 5-10 minutes.
- I’m partial to the hot sausage from James Gardner of Gardner’s Grove at the Franklin Farmers’ Market. You can’t miss his booth – just follow the irresistible aroma and sizzle of sausage cooking on his space heater.