Last weekend, I made a fried chicken dinner (more about that later) for two friends with October birthdays. And, because they are a natural pair, I made a batch of biscuits to go alongside. Because I am incapable of letting things be, I reached out for a new recipe and made the biscuits from the November/December 2007 Cooks Illustrated – drop biscuits containing a stick of melted butter, 1 cup of buttermilk and a bit each of salt and sugar. Sounds like it should be great, right? The biscuits were fine; we all happily ate them. But I ultimately decided that they weren’t as good as my usual biscuit recipe, a biscuit I have eaten since I was a child and a biscuit I have cheated on, shamelessly and promiscuously, for the last ten years.
I inherited my usual biscuit recipe from my mom; it’s written in her hand on lined paper, and I have no idea where it comes from originally. Everything about it suggests that it should be easily beat: it contains only flour, baking powder, salt, shortening and plain milk. Still, somehow, it is flakier, more tender and more delicious than any of the butter and buttermilk varietals that have lured me away, fleetingly, on many occasions.
Perhaps when it comes to comfort foods, objectivity flies out the window. Could it be that the biscuit you grow up with will always be your favorite just because? Good thing recipes don’t hold grudges.
1 ¾ cups AP flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoons salt
1/3 cup shortening
¾ cup milk
Preheat oven to 450°. In a bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Using a fork or two knives, cut shortening into flour mixture. With a fork, stir in milk until a dough begins to form. Dump mixture out on a floured surface and knead lightly 3-4 times. Roll mixture out to about ¾” thick. Using a 2” cutter or a juice glass, cut biscuits out and place on an un-greased cookie sheet. Bake about 12 minutes or until golden brown.