Every year since I can remember, Christmas morning we’d go over to my grandparents’ house at 6 am and all hide behind piano benches, chairs, couches, up the stairs, and behind the Christmas tree. We’d excitedly anticipate watching Santa come through that door, and whisper to our cousins what we were hoping to get that year. Soon enough, we’d hear the door jingle and Santa would come in ho-ho-ho-ing and jolly chuckling away. Our eyes would peer around from behind our hiding spots and watch him take wrapped presents out of his bag and name us one by one, mentioning our accomplishments of the year and how impressed he was with what angelic little children we were. Occasionally he’d confuse me for my cousin that lived in Arizona, but we didn’t care. We still got to open the loot after he left. And that’s what Christmas is all about when you’re a kid, right?
After the inital Santa and flying wrapping paper madness, my mom, aunts, and grandma would slip into the kitchen to make breakfast. ‘Twas appropriately named Texas Breakfast. Scratch that. I think it was always referred to as The Big Texas Breakfast. Never without the ‘Big’.
Whenever we go out to breakfast, my heart immediately hunts the menu for biscuits and gravy. I have yet to be über impressed. It usually satisfies the craving, but I haven’t found fluffy, flaky, tender, rich, buttery biscuits or a gravy that isn’t bland or taste like flour. Meh.
One of the secrets to perfect biscuits (and pie crusts) is for everything to be supa supa cold. So you don’t want to handle the butter a lot. Cold=fluffy biscuits.
Now I thought I had a pastry cutter, but nope. I did it like our pioneer peeps did and used two knives and criss-crossed the heck out of the dough until my butter and shortening were in little pea-sized clumps. Once the butter and shortening are generally mixed in, I use my hands to kinda squeeze it throughout so it crumbles together.
Pour in your buttermilk, then gently work it all in until a shaggy dough starts to form. Gather it all until it’s just mixed. Another secret to fluffy, tenderness is handling the dough as least as possible. The dough will be sticky and shaggy and you’ll say, ‘Stephanie, you little crazy, this needs way more flour.’ Don’t do it. Just generously flour your counter top and plop the dough on the flour. Sprinkle flour on the top of the dough and gently pat it out to about 1/2″ thick. Fold the dough onto itself three times. Like so. This helps get the flaky layers in your biscuit.
Now gently pat the log out until it’s all 1-1 1/2″ thick. Grab your 3″ biscuit cutter, glass cup, whatever, and punch out rounds. Another secret to properly-risen flaky biscuits? Don’t twist the cutter as you go down or bring it back up. Simply push down, pull up. You could also just cut the log into squares so you don’t have to reshape your dough waste.
Chill them for another 10-15 minutes in the fridge before popping them in the oven. While your biscuits are baking, make your savory sausage gravy. Get spicy sausage if ya like!
If you’re not a fan of sausage gravy on your biscuits, they’re perfect warm, dripping with butter and honey.
Talk about comfort food.
biscuits adapted from Martha Stewart
- 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for surface
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 2 scant T granulated sugar
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, plus 1 T melted butter for brushing
- 1/2 cup vegetable shortening (or lard) ,cut into small pieces and chilled
- 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
- 1 lb sausage
- 1/4 c all-purpose flour
- 2+ c milk
- *For vegetarian gravy, sub butter for the sausage drippings. Make sure you have equal amounts of butter and flour.
- Preheat oven to 415 degrees. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar. Repeat. Grate butter. Using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut in butter and shortening until mixture resembles coarse meal. Crumble together with hands. Make a well in center, and add buttermilk. Chill in freezer about 10 minutes or until very cold. Stir just until dough holds together.
- Turn dough onto a generously floured surface. Fold dough over on itself 3 or 4 times. Pat to 1-1 1/2 inch thick. Cut out rounds with a floured 3-inch biscuit cutter without twisting. Place rounds 2 inches apart on baking sheet. Gather scraps, and repeat. Chill in fridge 10 minutes before baking.
- Bake until golden brown, 15 to 18 minutes. Brush with melted salted butter.
- While biscuits are baking, cook sausage in large frying pan. Whisk in flour, brown 1-2 minutes. Whisk in milk until desired consistency is reached. Season to taste with spices. Serve over hot biscuits.