On the morning of my birthday, I awoke in Ali’s guest room and heard bustling about in the kitchen. John brought me a cup of coffee and alluded to a surprise arriving shortly. A half an hour later, after Ali had a somewhat secretive phone conversation, my surprise was revealed: bacon, egg and cheese sandwiches made on classic buttermilk biscuits. What a way to start a new year!
If you want a legit biscuit, head for the South. I learned that the original breakfast order was for chicken biscuits, which is the specialty at Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit on King Street. Ali mentioned that the young owner (Carrie) also had a cookbook, which I ordered within two days of being back home. I generally cook pretty healthy food, but I wanted to learn how to make biscuits, southern-style. And while my breakfast biscuit was positively scrumptious, I had a hunch that adding fried chicken would be a whole different ballgame.
As I read over the recipe for the classic buttermilk biscuits, a few things surprised me. First, Carrie’s recipe called for room temperature butter; almost every other biscuit or pastry recipe I’ve seen calls for very cold butter. The second thing I didn’t expect was including cream cheese in the recipe. I decided to follow the (surprisingly simple) recipe as it was written and learn something new.
I didn’t have self-rising flour, but learned you can make some with baking soda and salt. Into the flour mixture, I added the soft butter and cream cheese. As directed, I went right in with my hands to combine the mixture. I kind of squeezed the butter and cream cheese into the flour mixture with my fingers, but just to break up the bigger chunks. Next came the buttermilk, which made the dough very sticky (as the recipe said it would). I stopped as soon as everything felt just incorporated.
After cleaning up my hands, I sprinkled flour on my counter and a little on the ball of dough before turning it out of the bowl. I didn’t knead it; I just patted it into a ½ inch thickness, making sure there was enough flour so the dough didn’t stick. With no biscuit cutter, I used a jam jar and cut cute little rounds of dough. I placed them into cast iron pans, making sure the edges were touching.
Just before baking the biscuits, I brushed melted butter over the tops. The skillets went into a pre-heated 500 degree oven, but I immediately turned it down to 450 degrees. Ten minutes later, the browned biscuits were done. They hadn’t risen as much as I’d expected, possibly because my jam jar was too wide or my baking powder was old. But they were still gorgeous.
The big plan for these beauties was to put chicken on them for dinner later, but I couldn’t NOT taste a hot biscuit fresh from the oven. I cut one in half and spread a little butter on both sides while it was still steaming. Wow: they were perfectly moist and flaky, with good crust and great flavor. (And a bonus: they’re freezable!)
That night, I used a fried chicken recipe in the same cookbook as a guide, but let John handle the frying. First, he pounded the chicken breasts a little flatter and cut them in half. He made a little assembly line and started with a buttermilk-Cholula-spice mixture, then seasoned flour, then egg, then a panko-breadcrumb combination before dropping the chicken into hot canola oil. An unexpected ingredient was cinnamon. While he handled the bird, I prepped our biscuits by cutting them in half and slicing sharp cheddar cheese.
When the chicken was done, John placed it right onto the cheesy half of the biscuit to melt it. We had Cholula and mayo on the side, if needed, and served roasted broccoli with our biscuits. (You know, to balance things out.)
I’m not sure what the chicken biscuits are like from Hot Little Biscuit in Charleston, but the Park City version was incredible. The biscuits and fried chicken would each be yummy on their own, but together with some melty cheese- scrumptious! I was pleasantly surprised that I didn’t need mayo on my biscuit- it wasn’t dry at all. The chicken was crispy and the cheese held everything together. The cinnamon flavor was definitely evident, and it was really good!
The chicken biscuits were so good that I had one for breakfast the next morning, and John packed one up for his lunch during a backcountry ski tour. He sent this photo- a Southern chicken biscuit on a snowy peak in the Wasatch Mountain Range.
Healthy? Nah. Delicious? Beyond. And yes… I ate my broccoli.
Fried Chicken Buttermilk Biscuits
For Callie’s biscuits, you’ll need:
- 2 cups self-rising flour (or substitute all-purpose flour plus 3 teaspoons baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt)
- 4 tablespoons cut into cubes at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon melted butter
- 1/4 cup cream cheese at room temperature
- 3/4 cup buttermilk
For the fried chicken, you’ll need:
- 2 chicken breasts, pounded flat/even and cut in half
- 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 2 teaspoons cayenne
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- Panko breadcrumbs
- Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
- Flour for dredging
- 2 eggs
- Canola oil for frying
- Sliced cheddar cheese
First, make the biscuits. Heat the oven to 500 degrees. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Incorporate the butter, then the cream cheese, by using your fingers to smash it all together. It should be crumbly.
Make a well in the center and add the buttermilk. Using your hands, mix until just incorporated. The dough will be sticky and messy. Flour the counter, the dough, and your hands and turn the dough out of the bowl. Pat it into a 1/2-inch thickness. Using a biscuit cutter or small glass, cut dough rounds and place them in a cast iron skillet with the biscuits touching. Brush the tops with the melted butter.
Place the skillet in the oven and turn the heat to 450 degrees. Bake for 16-18 minutes until the biscuits are browned, rotating the pan once while baking.
Next, make the fried chicken. In a small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, 1 teaspoon paprika, 1 teaspoon cayenne, and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon. On a plate, combine a handful of each type of breadcrumbs with the garlic powder. On another plate, combine a handful of flour with the remaining paprika, cayenne, and cinnamon. In another small bowl, whisk the two eggs. Set up an assembly line and dredge the chicken through first the buttermilk mixture, then seasoned flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs. Fry two pieces of coated chicken in hot canola oil for 8-9 minutes, turning a few times, until the chicken is browned and cooked through.
Cut four biscuits in half and place the cheese slices on one half. Add the hot fried chicken to the cheesy side. Serve with Cholula or mayo if desired, and be sure you add something green on your plate. Cheers to a taste of the South (wherever you may be). Yum!
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