Man cannot live by bread alone....he also needs butter, fillings and things to dip it in. Such a versatile food with so many amazing side uses - sandwiches, toast, pudding, stuffing, croutons, crostini, panko, pizza, strata, as a bowl for soup, a frame for eggs, french toast, bread salad, bread sticks....OK, I give. I know there are more, but it's after 8 pm and I'm kind of old so I have to save up the rest of my memory to finish this post.
A couple years ago, Son #1 came home for Christmas, and decided to spend the night Christmas Eve to make sure his brother did not scab any of the pistachios out of his stocking. He is (off and on) a restaurant cook, and is quite good - I think he could win one of those chef competitions where they're looking for the next greatest thing, except they might have a problem because he's really messy about it. At least in MY kitchen. Anyway, as per usual, we ran ourselves ragged going to Mass and getting everything ready for the next day, and I realized I had forgotten to make the biscuits for the next morning. "No problem", says he, you just go off to la-la land and I'll make them for you. I was so exhausted I said OK and headed off, not even caring if there would be flour on the tops of the cabinets and shortening on the windows over the sink...at least I didn't have to make 'em.
We awoke the next morning to the aroma of baked bread - but as our bedroom is far away from the kitchen, the closer we got to the source, the more we realized that the smell wasn't quite right. There on a plate in the center of the island was a neatly arranged plate of an entire batch of biscuits....a lovely shade that can only be described by my favorite Crayola, Burnt Sienna. Son #2 filled us in....apparently after we went to bed there was "celebrating" going on, and some impressive quantities of hooch had been imbibed. Biscuits were mixed, rolled, cut and placed lovingly on a cookie sheet and put in the oven, at which point the baker decided to lie on the kitchen floor where it was cool and get comfortable enough to fall sound asleep. Many hours later he awoke to find his biscuits resembling mahogany hockey pucks....he then went back to bed in a more appropriate location. Needless to say I made a new batch for breakfast, then wiped down the windows and the tops of the cabinets.
So if you haven't figured it out yet, biscuits are always a favorite around here, mostly because they usually come with sausage gravy. Yes, that orgasmically good and fat-laden staple that probably caused the South to lose the War....who the HELL can get anything done after eating all those carbs?? (You do realize this is hysterical fiction, right? And that everything I know about the Civil War I learned from watching Gone With the Wind?) Lawdy. And biscuits are good for other things too, like to put on top of chicken and vegetables with a nice thick gravy for chicken pot pie, with a little mustard and butter, or sausage/egg/cheese for a sandwich, to wrap around breakfast sausages for pigs in blankets (one of my grandson's favorites), and using a little extra liquid, to drop on top of really thick stews to steam for dumplings. Not to mention just with butter, or the jam of your choice. Ooooooh-EEE, them's bitchin' vittles!!
This is another one of those things you should really try to make without Bisquick - I know it's convenient, but so is potted meat and I bet you don't want to eat that, do you? REALLY??? It's like ABC food...."Already Been Chewed"....please say you've never opened a can of that except to feed your dog because you're out of Alpo. Like Karl says, "ain't nuthin' but lips and peckers", and after he took care of Dwight Yokam, I tend to believe the man was a genius. So no Bisquick, in a long drawn out and disgusting way that I hope cures you of that nasty habit.
1-3/4 C. flour
1/3 C. shortening
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
3/4 C.+ buttermilk
Mix dry ingredients together, cut in shortening until all the pieces are smaller than peas. Make a well in the center and pour 3/4 C. buttermilk in, starting from the outside, stir in flour and mix just until most of the flour has been absorbed. If there is too much still dry, push aside the clump and add a little more to the dry area and stir in. It should be mostly a lump, but not too wet...if you used too much buttermilk, sprinkle a little flour over the top before you dump it out.
On a clean counter top, spread out a nice long piece of wax paper...don't be stingy, it's cheap and will save you from having to scrub the counter top. Dump the dough on the center of the paper, sprinkle with a little more flour if needed, then with floured hands, knead 4 or 5 times only - that means you lightly press it flat, fold it, then turn, flatten and fold again....4 or 5 folds should be fine. LIGHTLY form into a ball, then press or pat flat and you can either continue to pat or press it out by hand, or roll out with a rolling pin. You can use a can of food to if you don't have a pin...or a bottle out of the collection from that party you had and have been taking just a couple out a week so your recycler doesn't think you're a freakin' binge drinker or that you have a still in the basement. You want to roll/pat it out until it's about 3/4" thick I think...I don't know, I just eyeball it.
Cut with a biscuit cutter (round) or use a glass, dipping in flour to keep it from sticking. And you're supposed to push straight down and not twist, because it keeps the edges from sealing and your biscuit won't rise up as high...whatever. Just remember that the key is to HANDLE AS LITTLE AS POSSIBLE! The more you mess with it and warm it up, the more likely it will be tough and not tender. Put em on a cookie sheet, slightly apart so they can brown all over or almost touching if you want them to be soft on the sides. I don't put anything on top, but I hear that KFC brushes them with water or butter or some such nonsense...they don't need it.
Bake at 450 for 10-12 minutes - if you aren't sure they're done, pick a big one from the middle and pull slightly apart in the middle...It kind of looks stringy if it's not entirely cooked. Use a fork if you're a baby...I have burnt my hands so many times they are like catcher's mitts....and I pretty much don't even need hot pads anymore. Take em off the pan pronto, and put in a basket or bowl lined with a CLEAN towel....and please don't use a bath towel that says "His" on it, or one of cousin Ernie's old flannel diapers...bad form unless you really DO live in the South. Keep them covered with the corners of the towel and they will steam and stay nice and warm...but they're always gone before they get cold, so no worries.
What's that? You want the gravy recipe? Well, maybe I should start a Blog-A-Thon and see how much you REALLY want it first....muuwhaaaahaaahaaa!!!