Buttermilk Biscuits with Lard
As with many posts, I feel the need to attribute my interest in cooking — and I sincerely mean having any interest at all — to Alton Brown. Had Alton not taught me many of the basics of cooking, we would be eating a lot of take out and fast food.
My default, go-to biscuit recipe is his, handed down from his grandmother, Ma Mae. It uses both butter and shortening. Yet it occurred to me that a Southern cook like Ma Mae probably learned how to make her biscuits with lard. [Yes, now that I have a tub of it, I’m always looking for ways to use it. What’s that saying: when you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail….]
So I took the opportunity to modify his recipe to be half butter, half lard. You can, of course, stick with shortening, but really, why would you want to when the lard version turns out looking so beautiful?
- 2 cups flour (I have the best results with King Arthur brand)
- 4 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 2 Tbsp lard or shortening
- 1 cup buttermilk, chilled
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
In a large mixing bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Using your fingertips, quickly rub butter and shortening into dry ingredients until mixture looks like crumbs; work quickly so your fats don’t melt. Make a well in the center and pour in the chilled buttermilk. Stir just until the dough comes together. The dough should be very sticky.
Turn dough onto floured surface, dust top with flour and gently fold dough over on itself 5 or 6 times. Press and shape into a 1-inch thick round. Cut out biscuits with a 2-inch cutter [note that a 2-inch cutter is smaller than you might think], being sure to push straight down through the dough. Place biscuits on baking sheet so that they just touch. Reform scrap dough, working it as little as possible and continue cutting. (AB note: Biscuits from the second pass will not be quite as light as those from the first, but hey, that’s life.)
Bake until biscuits are tall and light gold on top, 15 to 20 minutes.
“Oooh, pretty biscuits! Can I please have two?”
These are delicious with a pat of butter, and can even make a respectably tasty breakfast when topped with a dollop of lemon curd.